How are these works of the flesh forgiven?

Hi all

I am just curious on how catholics are forgiven of the sins mentioned in Galatians 5…

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that **those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

It has been mentioned to me only mortal sins are confessed to a priest…

What about the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians which wll prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God ?

thank you


All sins can be confessed in confession, in fact probably most of those listed can be mortal sin. What the passage is saying is really that if you persist in those sins without seeking forgiveness you will not inherit the kingdom. God ALWAYS forgives the repentant sinner, no matter what it is.


Whoever told you that only mortal sins are confessed to a priest is very much mistaken. That simply isn’t the case. I had never heard this one before.

Also, any of the above mentioned sins “could” be a mortal sin. The theft of a single penny “could” be a mortal sin.

If you want to understand the Church’s teaching on sin and reconcilliation, I would strongly urge you to checkout the Catholic Catechism…

Especially the section on reconcilliation :

and sin :

Many people will tell you all about what the Church teaches, but this document is the actual teaching. Why not cut out the (typically incorrect) middle-person? :slight_smile:

God bless and thank you very much for your concern for my Salvation!


Short answer: all of the sins you mentioned are mortal sins. Mortal here means “deadly,” like a mortal wound. 1 John 5:16-17 distinguishes between two types of sin: that which leads unto death (mortal), and that which doesn’t (venial). Since St. Paul specifies that the sins he’s talking about are the ones which prevent you from inheriting the kingdom of God, they’re mortal sins.

But I think (and I may be wrong here) that you’re wanting to know, what about venial sins? There are three ways venial sins are forgiven: confession, the waters of Baptism (including holy water), and the Penitential Rite in Mass.

Only mortal sins are required to be confessed to a priest . Venial sins may be, and frequently are. Sacramental confession forgives those sins which you are sorry for and confess, are sorry for (or would be sorry for) and forgot about, and venial sins you’re sorry for (or would be). Basically, the only things **not **forgiven are those sins you’re not sorry for, and those mortal sins you’re not willing to confess.

So venial sins are normally wiped out in confession. They’re also removed in other ways. Holy water, for example, is a sacramental. Holy water is baptismal water, and reminds us of our baptism. As such, when we cross ourselves with holy water faithfully, our venial sins are forgiven. This is often accompanied by the prayer, “By this Holy water and by your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins O Lord.”

The third way: in the Penitential Rite in Mass, we pray, “I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do.” That’s a confession of our sins to one another, as James 5:16 talks about, even though it’s a very generic confession. We then pray, “And as I Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.” The priest then absolves everyone.

Venial sins by themselves won’t keep us from Heaven. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and we do it time and time again. But there’s a world of difference between a Christian who stumbles, and a Christian who knowingly and intentionally does something displeasing to the Lord who saved him/her. The first is unavoidable although regretful, the second is a slap in our Lord’s face.

If I may, let me turn this question around. St. Paul is writing to Christians, and warning them that certain specific types of sins can and will keep them from inheriting the Kingdom. I think we both agree that he’s implying, “unless they’re repented of,” even if we disagree on the form that proper repentence ought to take. But think about it: all Christians sin, but according to St. Paul, there are **certain **sins which disqualify those who would otherwise have been saved. After all, he’s saying it’s the sin of the flesh which is damning, not the unbelief of the practitioner. He’s not say, of course, that any Christian who commits any sin goes to Hell, or even that any Christian who commits any sin they haven’t repented of goes to Hell – either category would almost certainly cover us all. To me, this sounds very much like St. Paul is distinguishing, as St. John does, between deadly and non-deadly sins. How do you read it?

Finally, how does your church practice James 5:16 and John 20:22-24?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit