An intrinsically evil act is a type of act that is, by its very nature, immoral. Intrinsically evil acts are inherently incompatible with the love of God and neighbor. What makes an act intrinsically evil is its moral object, that is, the end in terms of morality toward which that act is inherently ordered. By its very nature, independent of the intention of the person who chooses the act and independent of the circumstances, an intrinsically evil act is ordered toward an evil end, toward an end incompatible with God as our highest good and final end.
Intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of the intention or purpose for which the act was chosen, regardless of the circumstances or consequences of the act, and regardless of the other acts that are chosen before, during, or after the intrinsically evil act. Nothing can cause an intrinsically evil act to become moral. The only moral choice is to choose a different type of act, one that is not intrinsically evil.
“Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature ‘incapable of being ordered’ to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed ‘intrinsically evil’ (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 80).
“In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: ‘Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God’ (1 Cor 6:9-10).” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 81).
“If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain ‘irremediably’ evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person…. Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 81).
Examples of intrinsically evil acts:
Intrinsically evil acts are never justified by intention, nor by circumstances, nor by other acts.