Is carelessness that results into a fatal accident a mortal sin?

Are unintentional accidents ever considered a mortal sin? If a man looks for his cell phone while driving, anxious that it may be his new girlfriend, or whatever, and causes a fatal accident, is his carelessness a mortal sin? Mind you, he knew full well his responsibility to the road should be first. Is that an example of the end not justifying the means? Where do we draw the line between personal responsibility and human error?

Next question:

If a man who is trying to recover from scruplosity, (people with scrupolosity are advised that a doubtful sin is not a sin. And, tend to always want to attend confession to wipe the slate clean, “just in case” due to an unhealthy amount of guilt) would his doubt of a matter exempt him from confession regardless if a mortal sin or not? And, would he be receiving communion worthily?

Thank you for any help.

Question 1. Simple carelessness that causes death is not a mortal sin. Remember the three things that constitute a mortal sin. Serious matter, full knowledge and consent.

Question 2. This goes more into the psychological makeup of the person. Simple scrupulosity does not excuse one from sin. Lack of mental capacity does. This is a simplex answer to a complicated question. Hopefully this will help.
Deacon Ed B

Deacon Ed B,

Do all 3 have to be present? If serious matter and consent is present, but full knowledge is not, would it be a mortal sin? If full knowledge is mandatory, it seems that any doubtful sin, whether one is scruplous or not, would not be a mortal sin in need of a confession.

If any of the three elements is missing, it is not a mortal sin. It still does not hurt to confess it.
Deacon Ed B

Deacon Ed B,

Today’s reading mentioned that the Spirit of God does not give us a spirit of timidity or fear. Do you think that sometimes it may be better for a person who normally does confess their sins (once every few months) to not to? In a situation where full knowledge is absent (even though you mentioned it wouldn’t hurt to confess it) do you think one who regularly attends confession should refrain from confession only because it would be an opportunity to trust more deeply in God’s forgiveness when confession is not absolutely necessary? If he was to go, would he not be giving in more to timidity and fear than trust? After all, he does attend confession regularly. I know we receive special grace when we attend confession, but could it be that God may be trying to tell him to trust Him in a less fearful way? Especially since the person is certain to attend confession for other reasons in the future (when venial sins start piling up, or of course, a mortal sin while having full knowledge, consent, and it be serious matter).

In good conscience, I could never council someone to refrain from confession
Deacon Ed b

Do you think that recent Popes have confessed weekly because of having a huge log of mortal sins? No, like any of the sacraments it is an opportunity to encounter the living Christ. Why would God not want to have this opportunity to embrace one and grant him more graces. I hardly think he is encouraging anyone to stay away.

Sometimes the scrupulous are told to stay away for a period because they are panicking and “hitting the box” a couple times a week if they can find one available.

Is the knowledge that the act imposes a risk of more serious consequences qualify as having full knowledge.?



If serious matter and consent is present, but full knowledge is not, would it be a mortal sin? If full knowledge is mandatory, it seems that any doubtful sin, whether one is scruplous or not, would not be a mortal sin in need of a confession.

It is, in fact, not a mortal sin, if full knowledge (or indeed any of the three criteria) is not present.

Again the three criteria are:

Grave (serious) matter.
Full knowledge that the action is sinful.
Full consent of the will to do the action.

We discern grave matter by looking at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1 - 7:28).

We discern whether we had full knowledge that the action was sinful by recalling to mind what we knew about it at the time.

We discern whether we had full consent of the will by asking whether we fully intended to do the action.

In the case of your example, it is obviously grave matter to kill someone.

Equally, the man knew that it was wrong to kill.

But, the man did not actually set out to kill that person. (There was no consent of the will.)

Therefore, he did not commit a mortal sin.

To Andy F
If I have full knowledge that more serious consequences could result from my actions, why an I doing them. Do I not care. There are so many nuances that can arise that a clear yes or no or maybe would change. This could go on forever. Bottom line: Do I care about others; that either calls for a yes or no. If I don’t that could be sinful, If I do, I would not do it.
Deacon Ed B

the action itself must be gravely wrong objectively
the individual must know it is wrong and understand its gravity
the person must freely choose to do it anyway, fulling knowing its evil and gravity.

without these 3 conditions an action is not a mortal sin, despited the gravity of the consquences (or lack of apparent visible consequences).

in the story in OP using the cell phone is not an objective mortal sin. on the other hand, if the law in the area makes using the cell phone while driving an offense, it might be.
drinking per se is not a sin. drinking to excess might be given the circumstances. getting in the car while under the influence where it is against the law could very well be a sin

Doubtful sins do not need to be confessed, and most moral theologians recommend that scrupulous persons do not confess them, while those without scrupulosity do so. The same for communion, if the doubt is a valid one and especially if the communicant-to-be is scrupulous.

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