Does the Catholic Church still believe in the seven deadly sins?

Does the church still teach this?

Yes, as well as the corresponding seven virtues… There’s a chapter in the Catechism devoted to each one.

While some people speak about the seven deadly sins and seven lively virtues together. The tradition of Catholic reflection has not established a one-to-one contrast/opposition; and the development of reflection on them progressed along separate lines.

(1) It is true that if you add up the major virtues covered in the CCC you get 7, but I do not see where it contrasts a particular virtue among the 7 with a particular capital sin among the 7.

(2) The 3 theological virtues come from 1 Cor and are traditionally seen as infused by God in the soul and directed specifically to God. As alluded to in the CCC the 4 moral/cardinal virtues originate in classical culture (1806) and are called “human virtues” (1804). They are acquired by human effort.

(3) Certainly it is true that some talk about the moral virtues of the supernatural order, i.e., the infused 4 moral virtues, but they are not the human virtues. Aquinas makes clear under “Prudence”: “Diligence is twofold: one is merely sufficient with regard to things necessary for salvation; and such diligence is given to all who have grace, whom ‘His unction teacheth of all things’ (1 John 2:27). There is also another diligence which is more than sufficient, whereby a man is able to make provision both for himself and for others, not only in matters necessary for salvation, but also in all things relating to human life; and such diligence as this is not in all who have grace.” (ST, II-II,47,14 ad 1) The latter is acquired only by education and human effort.

(4) The number of the “capital sins”–as they are called in the CCC–varies and there are also slight variances in the listing. The listing of the capital sins goes back to Evagrius of Ponticus, (Practikos, 6-39) who gives 8 in order of increasing seriousness: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia (despondency), vainglory, and pride. They then go on through John Cassian, Pope Gregory the Great, to St. John Clamacus.

“Some would hold that vainglory is to be distinguished from pride, and so they give it a special place and chapter. Hence their claim that there are eight deadly sins. But against this is the view of Gregory the Theologian [Pope Gregory the Great] and other teachers that in fact the number is seven. I also hold this view. After all what pride remains in a man who has conquered vainglory?”
[St. John Climacus (579-649), *The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 22]

Gregory “reduced the number to seven by amalgamating vainglory with pride and dejection with despondency and introducing envy.” (John Clamacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent, in “The Classics of Western Spirituality” Series, NY: Paulist Press, p. 201 n 81)

Yes. And actually Pope Benedict XVI actually also released in 2008 Seven Modern Social Sins, which consist of:

*]destroying the environment
*]genetic manipulation
*]obscene wealth
*]creating poverty
*]drug trafficking
*]immoral scientific experimentation
*]violation of the fundamental rights of human nature

God Bless.

Yes, it does.


You bet !! and we better not forget it. God Bless, Memaw


Just a quick correction, this was actually Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, who coined this list, not the Pope, although the papal magisterium has certainly addressed these issues individually at various times.

Also, these shouldn’t really be held up as an analog to the capital sins. The capital sins are certain fundamental sins that are at the root of other sins. The ones in this list are derivative or extrapolations from the capital sins, the Commandments, and other natural law principles. If capital sins are the root, these are more like branches.

Good point

They were always just a guide to categorizing sins.

I have never found them particularly helpful, and I think they are kind of silly, but it’s hard to say that somebody’s particular categorization is “wrong.” If it helps somebody to think about sins that way, let them think about it that way. I prefer to think about sins differently, and I do think that the medieval listing is archaic and not useful for most people.

This is precisely why they are necessary - because they are a strict warning to people who think they are silly, people who do not think they are useful, people who want to flow along without a care with American culture rather than take seriously their allegiance to the Kingdom established by God. They are “archaic” in that they do not change, like human nations change their minds all the time to allow license to sin.

John Martin

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