Mortal sin vs serious sin


I noticed that the eastern catholic catechism tells people to confess “serious sins” before communion (as opposed to “mortal sins”). What is the criteria for determining what is a serious sin? Is it the same criteria that orthodox churches use? I would like to hear answers regarding all eastern rites but especially the coptic rite.


I second this. Indeed they are. And there are many of them on CAF.


I’ve never seen anyone on CAF advocate for receiving communion in a state of mortal sin. Either that, or I haven’t read enough posts


You haven’t read enough posts. :slightly_smiling_face:


May I just comment on something that happened yesterday, which has me a bit confused. I had problems finding a priest to confess (I wasn’t receiving communion in the meantime just in case), anyway, finally found one who told me to come to confession AFTER mass, but to receive communion anyway.

I asked him if it was retroactive, and he said no, but you will confess later anyway.

Turns out none of my sins were mortal :slight_smile: so all good in the end, but I just wanted to comment on this strange instruction I got. Did not understand why he told me to receive communion before confession. Are there like special permissions or something? Cause I always thought this was a big no no.


Grave sin is equivalent to serious sin. When one is culpable for a serious sin it should be confessed as soon as possible.

Reference: Comparative Sacramental Discipline in the CCEO and CIC: A Handbook for the Pastoral Care of the Members of the Other Catholic Churches Sui Iuris, CLSA, 2003, edited by Fr. Francis J. Marini


There is no difference between mortal sin and serious sin. They are both the same.


That’s bad advice he gave you. Sacrilege should never be encouraged by men of God.

I will pray for him, that he may have a fruitful ministry, and give better advice to penitents.


Would appreciate if you could tell me what rite u belong to when posting. I particularly want to hear what eastern catholics have to say.


One thing I can think of is: Are you scrupulous? Because uf that was the case, I could see a priest figuring you didn’t actually have any mortal sins and therefore could receive Communion.


Mortal sin has three requirements:

Serious matter
Knowledge it is a sin
Intention to do it

We cannot accidentally commit a mortal sin. We can commit a serious sin that is not mortal if we did not know it was a sin or if it is unintentional.


He did not know me at all….so unless he was “enlightened”, I have no idea why he gave this recommendation. Turned out ok in the end, but this is not what I was taught was correct.


Eastern Christianity, whether Orthodox or Catholic, lacks both a) the distinction between mortal and venial sin made in the west, and b) the need to quantify in this manner. The West wants answers; the East is satisfied with and likes mystery.

Simply put, you are asking a western question that doesn’t make sense in the eastern mind/theology. you just aren’t going to get a good answer.

I am well aware that there are both EC and EO sources that write about mortal sin. But see b) above.



You know, I once, in confession, said to the priest that the sin I had confessed wasn’t “serious” Well, this guy went medieval on me. I meant to use the term “mortal” but was a bit too casual. He excoriated me for my cavalier attitude toward sin for five minutes. Left the confession feeling angry at him for his attitude, but the more I thought about it, he was right, all sin is serious. What we call venial sin may not seem serious or mortal, but it is a gateway to worse things, and that is serious.

Sorry to go a little off the rails on this thread, but the title brought back that memory.


The eastern emphasis is less on distinctions of gravity. For example here is a fragment from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, (Byzantine Catholic version) the celebrant says before the Thrice Holy Hymn:

You have allowed us, your humble and unworthy servants, to stand at this very hour before the glory of your holy altar to offer you due worship and praise. Accept, O Master, from the lips of us sinners, the thrice-holy hymn and visit us in your goodness. Forgive us every offense, voluntary and involuntary; sanctify us, soul and body; and grant that we may worship you in holiness all the days of our life, through the prayers of the holy Theotokos and of all the saints who have pleased you since time began.

And the Litany for the deceased has:

Again we pray for the repose of the soul[s] of the departed servant[s] of God, (Name/s), and that (his-her-their) every transgression, voluntary and involuntary, be forgiven.


Roman rite: I think the Catechism says one of the conditions has something about freedom, that we sin freely. Perhaps that’s what you mean by “intention.”

For the sake of my confessions, I usually run with sins that are grave in themselves. I usually don’t quibble about the other things.

The Old Testament made distinctions about intentional sins and sins committed inadvertently. You could make a sacrifice to atone for the latter but I’m not so sure about the former.


I have a question that you all may be able to help me with. I recently confessed a mortal sin that I committed in my past…one that has been haunting me a lot lately. The priest told me that I did not need to tell anyone else about the sins I committed. I am in a relationship that is getting serious, and I am feeling like I am not sharing the whole history of who I am…it was a stupid decision in college…several years ago that I terribly regret…do I need to share this mortal sin with my new partner? I am worried I am being false in my relationship, this topic has not come up in detail but I am feeling guilty about not sharing…and still can’t get rid of the guilt/shame after confession. He isn’t perfect either, that I know but I worry that my sin was greater than any of the ones I know he has committed. I have read various different responses, ones ranging from tell him and be honest about your sins and others range from he was not a part of your life during the sin and it is between you and god.


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