Intrinsically wrong?


I know that sins differ on the axis of gravity: how severe they are. The Catechism documents this.

I also know that sins differ as to whether they’re “intrinsically wrong” (that is, always wrong under any circumstance) or “extrinsically wrong” (that is, only wrong under some circumstances).

What I don’t know is where I should look to find out, authoritatively, whether a sin is intrinsically or extrinsically evil. It doesn’t seem to be documented in the Catechism, or if it is, I’m not understanding the wording that indicates that it is. Is there a single place I can go to find out whether a sin is intrinsically or extrinsically evil?



I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for or not but try the CCC paragraphs 1854 – 1864 and specifically paragraph 1858.

[quote=] 1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.


I have never heard those terms applied like you are using them here. Usually I hear intrinsic and extrinsic as applied to sin and occasions of sin, respectively. A sin committed is in the individual sinner while an occassion of sin is something outside of the sinner that is a contributing cause to sin.

I could see how these terms might relate to a sin being solely a function of the intent of the person (blasphemy, coveting a neighbors wife, etc.) as opposed to sins that also require an external act, like homicide or adultery. I suppose a sin that is soley a function of intent would always be wrong. I don’t see how there could be an exception. On the other hand, homicide (for example) can be justifiable in cases like self-defense. But I don’t think the gravity of the sin is implicated because there might be an exception that could apply. The murderer who doesn’t meet the exception seems to have committed as grave of a sin as the one coveting his neigbor’s wife.

The only other distinction I can think of that might apply these terms is that between a church law and a divine law. I don’t know of any list though that sets these out.


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