Indirect Participation


Is it a mortal sin if we fail to rebuke others when we see them committing sins? For example, if we are too timid to tell others when something they are doing is wrong, do we then participate in such sins? For example, if I am with someone who does not genuflect before a tabernacle containing the Holy Eucharist and fail to tell them that what they are doing is wrong then does that constitute sin on my part? Or if I am with someone who is watching something objectionable on TV, am I commiting sin for not saying anything?
Also, is it a sin if we purchase products from companies or groups that may give money to organizations that perform some deeds contrary to Church teaching? For example, if I buy a CD from a band that donates money to World Vision charities, which utilizes contraception as a means to provide family planning in Third World countries, is it a sin on my part for supporting that band?
I am a bit scrupulous and would be pleased to see how others view just how direct one’s involvement has to be to constitute sin. I know that the Catechism states that failing to hinder sins constitutes participation but am a bit perplexed as to whether it is grave sin on our part to fail to hinder certain sins.


Okay, to be clear, your post is to “see how others view just how direct one’s involvement has to be to constitute sin.” Because I have found contradictions in my logic after considering your question, I’ll provide the Catechism’s response as it seems to make more sense. 1868 claims that we do have a responsibility for the sins commited by others when we cooperate in them. Cooperation is defined as:
[LIST]participating directly, and voluntarily in them.
ordering, advising, praising, or approving them.
not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so.
protecting evil-doers.

So, using those conditions, purchasing a CD from the charity might not be a sin if the intent is not to approve of the objectionable actions. I’m trying to figure out whether or not in your situation you would have an “obligation” to disclose or hinder their actions, but I don’t think you’re protecting evil-doers. The genuflection issue is more a matter of culture than it is sinfulness as I understand it to be a Roman centurion thing, and thus absent in some other traditions, and some people just have knee problems.

People, usually, don’t have an obligation to screen or monitor TV programs, but you probably shouldn’t participate in viewing the programs and should not approve of it. Usually people are willing to share a TV and will look for something else if you request it. If they refuse, then you’ve made it clear you don’t approve and the grounds for your concern, and are not obligated to watch with them.

In situations when you are too timid, your culpability may be affected by psychological pressures and what not. It also depends on why you are timid. Are you afraid they will think less of you for your beliefs? Do you fear their rejection, and are willing to offend Our Lord for their continued favor? Do you have an obligation to rebuke them? If you see a murder in process, I don’t think it’s a sin to not rebuke the murderer. It is a sin not to try to intervene in some way, even if it’s to call the police and find a hole to hide in. It should be noted that when you see wrong doing you are not obligated to rebuke at every occasion, sometimes it makes more sense to skip the rebuke and go straight to disclosing or hindering in what way we can. (I’m not advising you throw yourself at the murderer in the example)

I don’t think I made any sense up there, but if you find any useful information, that’s good. I hope it helped.


My dear friend

One must weigh up each situation. It’s hard to give a quick answer. Fraternal correction is often needed to avoid a sin of ommission. I suggest seeking spiritual direction if you have OCD, and pray for an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit each day as this is what’s needed here.

God bless and peace to you:thumbsup::slight_smile:

closed #4

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