Did the nuns in 'Sound of Music' really sin?

First off, I know this is a classic and it seems silly to say “spoiler alert”, but I’d rather look like a doofus than actually spoil this movie for someone that hasn’t seen it yet.


End of the movie, when the nuns say, “Mother, we have sinned”, showing that they sabbotaged the nazi’s cars: was it a sin? I was watching it with my 8 year old, and she asked, “did they sin?” I explained that what they did was okay because they were saving the family’s lives. My husband said it was a joke, that they were not sinning at all. What do you think? How would you explain it to a child?

Great question. Personally I do not know how to put it in systematic, organized theological terms but I think it is not a sin.

However, some people would tell you that it is a sin, because you’re always supposed to obey the government. I think a government in order to be a true one needs to be legitimate and might does not make right, but, some people insist anyway.

This probably belongs in moral theology.

The nuns stole parts from the Nazi’s automobiles. Stealing is a sin, so yes, that particular act was technically a sin.

The Catechism says:

2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others.

This would probably be a good question for the Moral Theology forum.

I don’t believe they sinned.

One is to follow the laws of the government only if they do not conflict with the Law of God. In this case, the nuns did what they did to save an innocent family from blood thirsty Nazis. If you consider the “theft” of the piece of their engine a sin, well … I’d say God gave them a pardon on that one.

Ask yourself this:

Would it have been right for them to sit idly by?

Idle hands are the work of the devil.

Removing parts from a car is neither a good act or an evil act; it is not stealing. It requires more information. If one removed the brakes from an innocent person’s car, that would be immoral. If one removed the starter from the car of a Nazi who was pursuing innocent people, that would be a moral act.

The family was lucky to know a good automotive order nearby too…

Repeat after me,“It’s only a movie!” The Sound of Music is more fiction than fact,which is par for Holywood’s course.Even if it were true it would be no sin to inconvienience Nazis.

I don’t see the benefit of telling my 8 year old daughter that “It’s only a movie!” I think it is good to take advantage of opportunities like that to talk about sin and morality.

I did not think I would need to articulate this thought any further,but here goes.“The Sound of Music” is mostly fiction,meaning most of the scenes in it are completly made up out whole cloth.The few scenes that portray actual events only do so with a LOT of licence.The Idea that there were nuns in Austria that disabled Nazi’s cars in 1939 or whatever,is very probobly total fiction.In any case, it is not sinful to help the good guys escape from the bad guys.This thread is like asking if Santa is a sinner because he is a serial break and enter artist.Peace to you.

That’s funny! I never thought of Santa as a burglar!

The best answer was the first. It was only a joke. Heck, one is even allowed to take a life to protect an innocent from an unjust aggresor, so obviously taking a distibutor cap was a less lethal alternative. I think the good nuns had a handle on moral theology and a sense of humor. You noticed their Mother Superior did not order its return.

BTW - This is one of my favorite movies.

I did not think that I would have to articulate further that the purpose of this thread was to get suggestions on how to talk to an 8 year old about sin and morality, using a movie scene as a starting point, and not about the historical accuracy of the movie. Heck, I’ll use Sponge Bob or Napolean Dynamite (I have a teenager, too) to talk about friendship, for example. Peace.

I agree with you! As a parent I often use TV shows, movies, hypothetical situations as springboards for interesting conversations with my kids. It’s much more effective than sitting them down and saying, “Ok… now we’re going to discuss morality…”

Regarding that NON-HISTORICAL :rolleyes: scene in the Sound of Music… yes, what the nuns did could be considered sinful because it was stealing, but I’m not certain God would hold it against them…

For example we can read in Joshua: 2, of the prostitute Rahab who lied when questioned about the whereabouts of the spies. She said they had gone out of the city gates when actually she was hiding them on her rooftop.

When the city of Jericho was destroyed, Rahab & her family were spared:

*Joshua 6:25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. *

So although she lied, God blessed her.

I don’t know, but I always thought it odd that they ‘confessed’ to Reverend Mother rather than a priest. Do some orders of nuns do that?

Yes, cloistered nuns, such as some Benedictines, do what’s called a “Chapter of Faults” where they confess ways they’ve sinned against each other. (However, it doesn’t replace sacramental confession - they still have to go to a priest for that.)

Here is a link that explains it quite well: societyoftheimmaculata.com/chapter.html

(by the way, I initially misread the thread title - I thought you were asking if they really sing. :wink: )

How humbling!

It’s okay to lie in order to save a life.

I know that the story is more fiction than fact, but I was surprised to see how close it came to the real story.

Maria really was a candidate in the convent. She did tend to get into trouble for high spirits. She was really sent to be a governess (but to only one of the children). The captain was really about to be engaged to a baroness. The children were very musical. They did have a singing group. Maria didn’t want to marry the captain, but did so because the Mother Superior told her it was God’s Will.

The Captain was called up to action. They did flee, leaving everything behind–they pretended to go on a hiking trip.

the book


did you know that Maria was reared as an atheist and converted in college?

Captain was a Protestant who converted shortly before their marriage.

They had three children of their own.

They had a resident priest/musician who both ministered to their spiritual needs and trained them as a choir. They had a chapel in their house where the Blessed Sacrament was housed.

The Captain lost most of his wealth in the depression–a local bank failed. They had to take in boarders.

Their music was not the light fare of the movie, but intricate choral pieces as well as folk music.

They toured the U.S. for several years, but then opened a summer camp/farm that attracted many families. It is still in existence today.


if the nuns were able to get hold of the germans pistols and blew them away medals would have been in order, remember it was wartime.

I couldn’t resist answering this one on a favorite classic movie.
License or not - fact or fiction - the nuns not only saved lives - but you have to put their “sin” of destroying the guards’ car in light of all the similar “sins” of civil disobedience in history - committed to save the innocent.

The Hitler Regime - how many disobeyed Hitler’s rules by hiding Jewish people to save them from concentration camps?
And in so many movies we see - how many Christian prisoners are set free (illegally against Nero’s or whomever’s rule)?

People breaking rules all over the place. But I suppose it’s the lesser of two evils? My guess is God forgave the good Sisters (who I’m sure told it in confession when the movie was done;) ) - allowing the sound of music to be heard from Austria to New England when the Von Trapps moved here ! :smiley:

…But does the book say anything about the nuns and the car???..

Just kidding:) I couldn’t resist. I don’t check in here too often anymore. Thank you for your response, and the links. The lodge in Vermont looks beautiful.

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