Mortal sin and intention

I had a question about venial vs mortal sin. We’re told the conditions when there’s mortal sin. However, I remember hearing a while ago (from a priest) that even if something would not ordinarily be a mortal sin, but you think that it is, and still choose to do it, you commit a mortal sin: I understood that to mean, in your intention. Then, there are the following quotes, some of which are revelations from Our Lord:

I’m not at all disagreeing with this idea, but seeking more understanding. Does the Church have more info on this, just to read about it in more detail? I see St Thomas Aquinas and St Alphonsus Liguori mentioned it as well.


The easiest way to consider this is to consider what Sin is:
Sin is that which damages our relationship with God. It is that which separates us from Love who is God.

There are many things which can do this.
*]we can harm ourselves… sinning against the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is our own person and Body.
*] We can harm others… sinning against other members of the Body of Christ… or others who God wants to enter into His Body.
*] We can directly and deliberately reject Gods Love… denying His existence, or Lordship. we can consciously choose to reject His Friendship.

I like to think of the situation a bit like the relationship between a Husband and Wife.

A human Husband and wife will commit minor sins against each other and their relationship on a regular or daily basis… from simply not being attentive or appreciative to eachother… not giving eachother the help they need that day etc…
No one of these occasions is enough to sever the relationship… but years of this neglect can destroy the marriage totally
These are venial sins

On the other hand one of the spouses could comitt a very serious infraction against their marital relationship… the obvious example is marital infidelity. This action is sufficient in itself to perminantly destroy the relationship - if forgiveness is not sought or is refused.

A person comitting such a sin against their spouse knows when doing so that the act is that serious. they know it risks or will break their marriage. they do it anyway.

Now in your hypothetical situation… can you commit a Mortal Sin by committing an act which you believe is rebellion against The Lord… While it is not the act itself which is Grave Matter, it is the intention to reject His Will. His Law. It is the Rebellion and the Pride that leads to it which is the sin rather than the intrinsic nature of the act itself.

This also works in reverse… as you pointed out… If you don’t know that a particular act is a Grave Sin, then it is unlikely to constitute a Mortal Sin for you… unlike Civil Law or Human Criminal Law: Ignorance is a defense in Divine Law.

I’m short of time, so I’ll need to let others find the appropriate quotations from authoritative sources.

[quote=Monica4316;10888365. Does the Church have more info on this, just to read about it in more detail?

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

That’s all that this paragraph says. It’s in a section on human free will. So, anything which takes away free choice diminishes or nullifies the sin.

In scripture, on the cross, Jesus refers to ignorance: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Elsewhere in scripture, in the OT, there was a story about how a slave woman was forced into adultery. The text says she is not guilty of adultery, because of her slave condition.

I’ve tried to get clarification on how this paragraph of the CCC should be used. For example, if you think it applies to you, then you shouldn’t have to go to confession before receiving communion – because it’s either a venial sin or not a sin at all.

If you confess the supposed sin anyway, then there was no point to the bishops putting this in the CCC in the first place.

The other sort of clarification is how broad it is. Ignorance — fear — habit — social or psychological factors (not elaborated). Whew, that’s a loophole you can drive a popemobile through.

Homosexual conduct is condemned as grave matter, but isn’t there a strong psychological factor that takes away freedom? Would a person even be thinking about it, if that factor was not there?

This paragraph isn’t the entire “story.” Because of the universal call to holiness, we are called to avoid all sin. We have an obligation to try to overcome habits of sin, etc., exactly where 1735 may apply.

1735 is in the catechism, with everything else. So, this is part of the deposit of faith like everything else. (You have to believe in this and accept it.)

You are right: if a person thinks that what they are about to think, say or do or omit from doing is a mortal sin – even if it isn’t – yet they still commit the sin anyway, then the person is guilty of mortal sin.

I agree.

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