Definition of "Full Knowledge" in Mortal Sin?

Hi Everyone,
As many of us already know, the official Catholic definition of what constitutes a mortal sin includes a requirement of “full knowledge,” as well as “full consent” and “grave sin.”

I can’t, however, find an official definition of what “full knowledge” is. Is there an official definition of “full knowledge” that has been defined by the Catholic Church?

-Justin

CCC 1859- Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

This is what I could find quickly in the CCC…

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin. (1734)

So in essence it’s saying that the knowledge of the sin is simply that the sin is known to be sinful.

Kind of circular there, but the key is - if we are dealing with grave matter, an understanding of grave matter essentially holds within it, knowledge of the sinfulness.

If that makes any sense.

My definition is knowing without any doubt, that the action you are doing is a grave offense against God. After knowing it, then saying I don´t care. I´m going to do it anyway. When I read the definition of mortal sin, I said to myself, that there is no way, that I could commit a mortal sin. Boy was I wrong. Make no doubt about it. My character without God is scum. I am awed, beyond discription, that He loves me the way I am. When I see someone´s actions that make me disgusted, I reflect on just how disgusting I am. Then it´s easy for me to say to my Lord, forgive him Lord, he´s not as bad as I. God bless:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

I think CCC#1859 quoted above is a good answer. I wouldn’t get too hung up on a strict “definition” as if “full knowledge” can be scientifically quantified. We are talking about spiritual matters and behavioral aspects which can’t necessarily be defined mechanically anyway. :o

Here is an old post of mine on a similar question:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=845089

Some highlights:

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Note that it says knowledge of the sinful character of the act…not that the Church has taught it, but just that you know it is wrong. And then in the next section that “no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law”, showing that we don’t need the Church to teach us basic moral pricniples, they are inherent and everyone knows the basis rights and wrongs. So you have sins like murder, adultery, theft, etc that essentially every society in human history has condemned and every person knows in their own conscience to be wrong.

I think one of the things here is that some would say that divorce and remarriage is NOT adultery or that since they do not believe contraception is a sin it is not a sin (at least not for them).

In other words humans are really great at deluding themselves and can convince themselves that wrong is right; bad is good; sin is virtue. So the real question is if someone truly beleives that say premarital sex is not a sin would they still be culpable for that sin? I have heard some argue that if you do not believe what you are doing is offensive to God then full knowledge of the sin does not apply.

If you know the Church teaches that an act is of grave matter that satisfies the full knowledge condition.

This is a debated issue in moral theology Thistle and cannot be considered the only valid view on the matter.

What are your sources for your interpretation BTW?

Life is more complicated than the black and white words and a few short propositions we try to contain it with - meaning there are exceptions and complications that need to be clarified.

For example, as CCC 2386 makes clear, a partner involved in divorce can be an innocent victim.

And what seems like a “remarriage” can in fact be a first marriage in the eyes of God even if that is not the case in the eyes of man.

So the black and white statement that equates “divorce and remarriage” with adultery is frought with difficulties if we try to make it well describe a reality that is not actually so clear cut.

So too with trying to say that simply being told by an authority that something is grave sin fulfils the “full knowledge” requirement for commiting a mortal sin.

One also needs to keep in mind the distinction between abstract juridic descriptions/definitions/lists of grave sin (sometimes called the mortal sins) and personally, freely and with full knowledge committing a grave sin that kills the life of God in the soul (also a mortal sin).

It should be as simple as that otherwise you will have many (in fact do have many in these forums) claiming that it is virtually impossible to commit a mortal sin.
Personally, I find these debates usually mean people are looking to be able to justify continuing to sin by claiming nobody can have full knowledge about anything!

Maybe I´m confused, but The Holy Spirit talks to me. He tells me to stop. It could lead to a mortal sin. Many times I stop. Many times I don´t. When I don´t, The Holy Spirit tells me what I just did, and I confess it. The statement about killing our relationship with God is very illuminating. A Priest once told me, that it´s Our Conscience, that we have to rely on. It´s the only one we got. God said that He would write His Law on it, and I believe Him. God bless:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Let’s see what the Catechism says in the binding original Latin:

1859 Peccatum mortale plenam cognitionem requirit plenumque consensum. Cognitionem praesupponit indolis peccatoriae actus, eius oppositionis ad Legem Dei. Consensum etiam implicat sufficienter deliberatum ut electio sit personalis. Ignorantia affectata et cordis induratio indolem voluntariam peccati non minuunt, sed augent.

a more or less literal translation:

“Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to the Law of God. That agreement also includes sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish the voluntary character of sin, but rather increase.”

The full knowledge, plenam cognitionem, involves just what the rest of entry says: knowledge of the sinful character of the act - in this case including knowledge that the sin is grave.

There are some modern theologians who argue that these conditions are almost never met. That goes against two millennium of Christian teaching and the testimony of both the Fathers and the saints.

.

It doesn’t matter Thistle.

Church Confessional discipline is very simple and clear - if you have engaged in grave **material sins ** (ie whether its “full knowledge” or full intended or not doesn’t matter) you go to confession and enumerate them in number and kind, full stop, black and white, end of story.

I think you will find the majority of Catholics worldwide do not even know what “grave material sins” means and have never even heard that expression.

I am a convert and I was and still am amazed at how ignorant cradle Catholics are about their faith and what the church teaches.
Sadly many of those who are not ignorant about their faith tend to get into debates about things like full knowledge or full intent of the will to try to argue such is not possible to have and therefore they cannot commit a mortal sin.

I can only imagine that many are also waiting with great hope that the Synod called by the Pope will change infallible teachings of the Church on divorce and remarriage, contraception, and homosexuality. Don’t Catholics know that infallible teachings cannot change but they hope change will happen so they can justify their sins.

Thistle I know what you mean but the way you say it makes me wince a little as I fear you are shooting yourself in the foot a little despite the praiseworthy loyalty to truth. :thumbsup:.

Sure the teaching on marriage and divorce and Communion won’t change.
But the Church made rules for determining, for example, who is validly married and who is not may.

It is conceivable that a parish priest may be given the authority to make a disciplinary decision on the interim status of the remarried if the Marriage Tribunal processes (whose limitations are well recognised by the last two Popes and which do fail those prudentially judged to have never been married in the first place) are stymied due to obstructive witnesses yet circumstantial evidence is strong or is taking way too long.

I am sure you know what the grave sins are … basically its simply transgressing the 10 Commandments.

Material sin simply means you have transgressed by deed regardless of full knowledge or full consent. If later you realise it was grave you have to confess - doesn’t matter whether you knew at the time.

Covers all bases and advances humility even if only venial or less (eg done sleep-walking :eek:).

Some people, morally, seem to sleep-walk even when awake.

I understand what grave material sin means but sadly a great many of cradle Catholics do not. I live in the Philippines which is 85% Catholic (has more Catholics than the USA) and my experience is that very few (and that is across all walks of life) know what the Church teaches and also misunderstand teachings they are aware of.

Okay I get what you mean about the process to determine the validity of a marriage which of course as you say does not change the actual teaching.

Knowing that something is grave matter is called full knowledge

That’s interesting Thistle.
There are lots of Filipinos (more than Filipina) in my country down under here.
Some are highly educated but the majority are not, they are extremely communal so just love coming to the local parishes and making use of the supportive infrastructure (which is just as it should be). However, like any empoverished nation where education is a luxury, religious syncretism and practises/beliefs not wholly compatible with fair dinkum mature Catholicism is a worry. Which again is how it should be, we’re a purifying Church not a pure community so to speak.

Anyways, how did you (US citizen I gather) end up in the Philipines - by marriage I suppose? Usually the girl comes out to the man’s home country … that suggests you are there for work originally rather than her finding you in the US?

Nosey aren’t I. (I am married to a Malayasian Chinese).

This adds absolutely nothing knew to the discussion Rob.

I do tire of the “anyone who disagrees is a modern theologian” approach.

There is much theological debate on what “plenam cognitionem” actually means in the field - as the insightful CCC clauses on the culpability of masturbation (2352) seem to suggest.

It is one thing to know that abstract “murder” is a mortal sin.
It is another to know that what I just did is an example of same rather than “self defence”.
And the knowledge is not simply about the Commandments but also a practical knowledge about my own action and an ac-knowledgement that this specific act is truly a breaking of a Commandment.

I believe the US decision to bomb Nagasaki was murder as full knowledge that innocents would certainly be killed (and so directly intended) is hard to deny, but you no doubt disagree that either the innocents were not innocent or their death was not directly intended.

The very fact we disagree proves my point, “full knowledge” is not easy to define in the breach.

BTW the US seemsto have gone a step further in Afghanistan etc with the drone operators who are basically told that all males over a certain age in combat zones (which includes residential villages at times I believe) are to be considered combatants unless later proven otherwise (too late by then of course) so no innocents there. No murder possible.
Self defence…don’t make me laugh (or rather cry).

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