Example of NOT giving deliberate consent for mortal sin?

(Before I begin, I’d like to state that I did search the CAF but I didn’t find that the threads answered my specific question.)

With regard to the three conditions necessary for a sin to be considered mortal, the first two are easy to understand: 1) grave matter and 2) full knowledge. But the third, complete consent (CCC 1859), is a bit hazy for me. I know what it means to give complete consent—it simply means that you freely choose to commit the grave actions despite knowing it’s a grave offense to God.

But if the third condition is complete consent, what, therefore would be INcomplete consent? How can you incompletely give consent? Would someone please provide me with some answers? Let’s look at three scenarios:

  1. An alcoholic is at a corporate Christmas party and just can’t resist the drink offered to him. And then he just can’t stop;
  2. A Catholic couple know that fornication is wrong, and they’ve been good for several months. But then, one day, there was a terrible rainstorm, and they are trapped in their cars without umbrellas. It’s cold in the car…they start hugging, then kissing, etc etc, one thing leads to another—they were overcome by passion;
  3. A German solider during WWII is ordered by his superiors to lead prisoners into gas chambers. The soldier knows that if he doesn’t carry it out, he will die;
  4. A destitute woman in a poor country resorts to prostitution, seeing it as the only means to support her child. The CCC in 2355 says that in such a case “the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.” But isn’t she acting freely?
  5. A woman is threatened by the mob to commit perjury, and so she does out of fear for her family.

These are just some of my own guesses as to what would constitute INcomplete consent. Are they good examples? If not, please provide examples of your own to clarify this. Thank you.

There is not a list of things that constitute a lack of consent. That could be endless and therefore impractical.

If you have a mental incapacity or you are coerced or there is genuine immaturity then there might be reduced culpability.

  1. Doing something under deception or duress never constitutes consent. Same thing with having no mental capacity to sin, or being temporarily unable to exert your will (like being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or medicine, or being too sick to oppose anything).

  2. Knowing something is wrong (“I shouldn’t steal”) but not having complete knowledge of the seriousness of an offense (“I only stole a penny, but I didn’t realize that I stole that man’s last penny in the world, and thus doomed him to starve to death”).

  3. Doing something while maintaining mental reservations about it (that’s a tricky one to define). If you were doing a “Heil Hitler” just for pretend, in order to carry out your Resistance mission, and actually were fighting Nazis the whole time, that might be an example.

  4. Not sure that one really did consent at any point.

  5. Just being around while something is done, but not approving it while not actually stopping it.

Those are the basic reasons.

Duress can sometimes reduce culpability, even substantially. However, the Magisterium teaches that duress does not necessarily remove culpability. There is often some degree of duress present in life; the conscience is not thereby overwhelmed.

CCC 1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

Under Pope Innocent XI, a decree of the Holy Office (now called the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), on 4 March 1679, **condemned **the claim that: “A male servant who knowingly by offering his shoulders assists his master to ascend through windows to ravage a virgin, and many times serves the same by carrying a ladder, by opening a door, or by cooperating in something similar, does not commit a mortal sin, if he does this through fear of considerable damage, for example, lest he be treated wickedly by his master, lest he be looked upon with savage eyes, or, lest he be expelled from the house.”

IN the above example, the servant is under duress, yet he still sins gravely by cooperating with the sin of his master.

Examples of **possible **substantially reduced consent (aka deliberation) –
Psychological factors, such as an addiction, a long-standing bad habit, inordinate attachments, the effect of past grave sins on ones mind and heart, duress/fear (sometimes), strong emotions, etc.

Having to make a quick decision in a difficult circumstance, so that one lack sufficient time for full deliberation

lack of full knowledge, such that one is uncertain about the morality of an act, can result also in a lack of full consent, due to a lack of certitude about the morality of the act to which one consents.

1 Like

I would not agree with NO. 2. It doesn’t have to be a rainy night for couples to get themselves in that kind of situation. We have a serious obligation to “avoid the near occasion of sin”, in a car or anywhere else!! He could have driven her home or some where public. Stop the kissing etc, before it gets out of hand. God Bless, Memaw

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