Is any act permitted by the Church, if that act is not a sin?

I have a theological question to ask:

Is it correct to say that “If [Action X] is not a sin, then [Action X] is permitted by the Church”?

In other words, if something is not a sin (according to the Bible, Catechism or the Code of Canon Law), then we are allowed to think/say/do it.

When answering this question, please do make the effort to cite some authoritative sources, like Canon law, or the Catechism, or the Bible.

Hi. Your logic is faulty as there are many actions that can or cannot be performed by laity and clergy that are not be mortally sinful but still not allowed or encouraged by canon law, Sacred Scripture or the Catechism. That is to say, the Church doesn’t make a practice of defining (and thus allowing or prohibiting) every single detail in lay, clerical or liturgical life unless there is a reason to do so.

For instance, take this article by EWTN and CA Apologist Colin Donovan that discusses the practice of kneeling during the Consecration, which has copious references to canon law as well as the Roman Missal. Here, Mr. Donovan points out that the *normative *practice in the Latin rite before receiving the Body and Blood is to kneel or genuflect. However, as the document notes, the U.S. bishops have been given approval to substitute or waive this for the U.S. parishes.

Were a parishioner to kneel or genuflect in the U.S. while receiving, it is not sinful nor illicit, but not typical. It is probable that a priest might ask the parishioner not to do so in order to keep a communion line from becoming chaotic here in the States, but he cannot prohibit it as this is the Latin norm and is a universal rule.

Bishops play a role here. In my state and diocese, we bow before receiving. That bow is not done in the adjoining parishes in Illinois.

Generally, as I’ve heard in similar questions on CAL, the lack of a definition in canon law or Scripture does not necessarily follow that such an act is allowed. In colloquial terms, you might be able to do something that others haven’t done, but that doesn’t mean that you should from the basis of common sense, courtesy or practice.

It’s hard to answer this without a concrete example. However, I would say that somethings could still be sins even though there is not specific teaching against it.

For example, there is nothing in Church teaching (that I know of) that says you shouldn’t drive 90 mph on the highway with a posted speed of 55. But it would still be a sin against the 4th commandment to obey authority and possibly a sin against the virtues of temperance or prudence.


However, what you have mentioned thus far have to do with ritual in Mass.

But would my statement be true outside of the Church, in daily life for instance?

I think all of us spend too much time worrying about what constitutes a sin, and on legalism, whereas if we would concentrate on living out the gospel message, the definition of sin would be a moot point.

Peace and all good!

This is a bit of an ambiguous question, because not all things that are considered sinful is written down is some kind of “not to do” list.

In general, if something is not sinful or will not cause someone else to sin, it is okay to do, but this too is ambiguous, because it isn’t that simple.

Part of the Church’s job (as well as parents’ jobs) is to help form our conscience, and then we judge from our conscience what appears sinful or not. A well formed conscience will be able to spot what is sinful vs. not sinful. But sometimes, what may not be sinful for us may cause someone else to sin. For instance, it isn’t directly immoral for a woman to wear a short skirt, but by wearing the short skirt, it may cause men to lust, leading them into sin.

You are to use your conscience (not emotions) to make a judgement as to whether something you do is right or wrong. If you find fault with your conscience later on (find out something is a sin) then you can seek forgiveness and then reform your conscience with a better understanding of what is sinful vs. not sinful.

In regards to things that are written down, they are not the whole story, as I mentioned before. All things that are sinful have been written down. Some things that are sinful are derived from concepts that have been written down. Just as an example of concept: The Church says that contraception is wrong, so anything that could be used as contraception, even if it is not directly stated as contraception by way of advertising or whatever, is morally wrong.

Hope this helps

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