Limited culpability mitigating mortal sin


About two months ago, I confessed to a priest that I did not usually confess to. I have been struggling with a certain sin for a while and it has sent me to the confessional once a week. This priest told me that, from the way I explained the sin, he didn’t believe that I was fully culpable when it takes place, thus mitigating the potential of it being a mortal sin. He suggested that I make well considered confessions once a month rather than scrupulous ones every week and to continue availing myself of holy communion trusting that my sins are venial and are forgiven at the beggining of mass. I emailed another priest to get a second opinion and he seemed weary of questioning advice given to me by another priest. He suggested that I follow the priest’s advice. I have been doing so for about two months but can help feeling uncomfortable. I still try to make an act of perfect contrition when I commit the sin, but my mind hasn’t quite gotten behind the whole “waiting a month and taking communion anyway” thing. Is my anxiety warranted or should I listen to father (or in this case, fathers)?

Thank you for your help, you have my prayers


I don’t believe they or any priest would tell you to not confess a sin and to wait a month because then we are choosing to stay in sin and to accept sin which isn’t right.

However, you might be deeply overthinking this sin which is why they are saying not to come to confession so much, I think it really depends on the sin. I don’t see anything wrong with you going to confession with a different priest but again it depends on the sin.

If it were me and I masturbated, if it was mortal or venial I would want to get it off my chest. Venial sins are forgiven during mass so perhaps it has already been forgiven for me (maybe for you as well depending on the sin) but if you think its mortal why risk it?

But thinking every sin is a mortal sin is scrupulosity and I believe that is the heart of your problem here. I think you should determine if it is a mortal sin and if it is, then yes go to confession ASAP. If it is venial (as these priests say it is) then stop debating it because that is scrupulosity, and know that your sins are forgiven during mass


The sin is a grave matter and I acted with full knowledge that it is a grave matter, but did not, according to both of these priests, act with full consent of the will. For a sin to be mortal, it must be grave, you must know it’s mortal, and you must fully consent. Because I have been told that I am not acting with full consent of the will, according to father, the sin would become venial. He is not telling me to “remain in sin” but is rather telling me to realize that the sin is not mortal because of its compulsive nature and that it does not necessitate a visit to the confessional after every instance. Would you feel comfortably in my position now that I’ve elaborated? Questioning the judgement of two priests, one of who was acting in Persona Cristi, seems like the sin of pride to me. I’m weary of thinking that my own sense of self is greater than two priests’ learned opinions.


I would accept that it is a venial sin then and know it is forgiven during mass :slight_smile:

Compulsion/addiction I think gets in the way of a lot of mortal sins but that is not for me to define what is mortal or not. That is for a priest and two priests have defined that for you


I play it safe and don’t receive if I’ve done something of grave matter. Unfortunately (in my opinion), priests and others are unwilling to offer much in the way of discerning mortal versus venial. They won’t even as much as lay out guidelines most of the time.

Anyway, what does work, since it’s a much more objective question is cornering a priest or other trusted Catholic and asking “is X sin grave matter?” (Alternatively Aquinas is always helpful, but he isn’t perfect. Although to be honest he’s the greatest Christian thinking if all time so he’s probably smarter than your priest.) If they say no, then be completely at peace. If they say yes then play it safe. It’s served me well.

Sidenote: If they say that it isn’t grave matter then it can’t be a mortal sin. Period. If you’re still convinced that it is, you are being scrupulous.

Sidenote 2: If you do decided you’ve been receiving communion when you maybe shouldn’t have, don’t fret. You were listening to a priest which is very very reasonable. I’m sure Jesus gets it.


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