Manipulation and Culpability


I was just watching a video online where a woman was talking about her abortion and it seems like she was severely manipulated into the decision which she regreded immediately after going through with it. For those who find themselves manipulated by a loved one into sin, doesn’t that lessen their culpability? As a person who has experienced severe manipulation by a loved one, I think these type of people tend to be codependent and can’t separate their self-worth from the relationship, so turning their partner down in any request can be excruciatingly difficult. What does the church teach about this?

Also, please pray for this woman she has left the church because of her guilt/ shame. My heart breaks for her.


I don’t know about this. I’m sympathetic to the plight of the co-dependent, but when all is said and done we are the authors of our own sins, whether we were manipulated into them or no. No one can force us to do anything. Whatever actions we take are our own responsibility, no one else’s. One could as well argue that Adam and Eve were not culpable for original sin because they were manipulated into it. Sorry, just doesn’t add up.


Seems to me that it would lessen the culpability - woe to the person who tries to force a person to have an abortion. I wouldn’t want to be them at their particular judgement. But I’m no theologian, perhaps you could ask an apologist?

Encouraging another to sin is a sin in itself.

My two cents.


Coercion, pressure, being brain-washed, etc… can of course reduce the culpability of sin. In addition to there needing to be grave matter, the sinner must have full knowledge and deliberate consent for a sin to be mortal. The gravity of some sins should be more naturally obvious and apparent than others such that one shouldn’t need formal education to realize the wrongness, but that doesn’t mean mitigating factors are impossible. For such grave circumstances, I would still press on the need for confession for reconciliation and healing. This isn’t a case of missing mass due to illness or childcare, which I think people can generally reasonably judge without needing to feel guilt, and a serious evil occurred whether or not the person was fully culpable for the decision.


Really? While it may be neat and tidy to reason like this, If someone literally believes they can’t live without a person who threatens to leave them if they don’t get an abortion, it seems to me that the person didn’t act in free will.


The Church recognizes “force” and “fear” as mitigating circumstances in the actions of people when it comes to commitment and/or the moral climate of action. They are conditions which would render a marriage “null”. I don’t think it off the reservation to consider someone who is emotionally and psychologically “beaten up” to not have the ability to make the kind of informed decision and choice that is necessary for “mortal” sin.
And of course, this is something that a priest in conference/confession is best able to pass judgment on. Not an anonymous poster’s opinion on an internet forum. Ask a priest!


I guess, I’m only asking because I want to make sure that Im not taking a too compassionate approach to this kind of thing (if thats’ possible). I want to make sure that Im not sacrificing church teaching because her story is heartbreaking.


Co-dependent? That’s not the only dynamic operating.

Imagine a 14-year-old getting pregnant and her family threatening to throw her out of home and cut off financial support if she doesn’t get an abortion. That’s literal dependence. In most cases there are very real limits to a young teen’s options in terms of her being able to support herself, or find support elsewhere, so as to have a child. And there is a lot of very real pressure that can often be brought to bear, whatever the teen’s wishes may be.


I’m confused. How can one be too compassionate?
People sin and make mistakes all the time. Yes, some are worse than others, but we are still called to love each other.

One never knows what is going through the others heat,ind & soul. Love and compassion are always the better course of action.


I think that being too compassionate would be to say that it’s all right to get an abortion. It’s not.

But God forgives us of any sin except ultimate rejection of His mercy. Can we do less? Can I refuse to forgive others when God forgives me everything?

There are Catholic organizations which help women heal from abortion, which includes learning that God will forgive them and accepting His forgiveness.

Is this too compassionate? No. To forgive someone their wrongdoing is not too compassionate. To be that compassionate is actually a good thing, a holy thing.


I was just wondering because I noticed a lot of Catholics can be so strict about things that it makes me feel like Im missing something. I think people tend to judge others who are kind to sinners as if being kind is condoning the behavior. Thats all.


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