Mortal Sin's Frequency


How often do you think people (in general, not you in specific) fall into a state of Mortal Sin. Not just commit gravely evil acts, but commit Mortal Sin - the kind of which if they don’t repent of they will be damned for?

In other words, is mortal sin a common / frequent occurrence?


Not really something for us to know. Let us pray for all who have so fallen -that they may be open to the Good Shepherd and return quickly to true life or find him for the first time…

Let us all follow Christ -put our hand to the plow and not look back.


Yes, mortal sin is quite common. Even when you talk to people about it they have no sorrow, sad.


Unfortunately, it’s too common. Not all mortal sins equally, but generally, too too common…


I’m one of the two who didn’t think it was all that common because most people don’t have full knowledge.

If the truth were known, we probably commit them all the time, OBJECTIVELY. But to be guilty of them SUBJECTIVELY, we have to have full knowledge and full consent.


When I posted the poll I expected the overwhelming majority of respondents to agree with you. So far my hypothesis has proven false.


I may appear negative but it is my fellow Catholics and the response I get most often is that Jesus loves sinners. :shrug:

Guess some are sure they will have time to get to confession before they die? If we confess the same mortal sin every week are we really remorseful?

It is not for me to question. Must do my own soul searching. :thumbsup:


I’m not saying I agree that mortal sin is rare, I was just expecting most people to answer that way.


Well said.

There’s not much point in voting in a poll like this, nor worrying too much about what the majority of people vote.


I agree there is no point if the exercise is one to determine the truth of how much mortal sin is committed (that can’t be determined via poll), but if the exercise is to determine what other Catholics on CAF think about the frequency of mortal sin (which is why I posted the poll) then I can hardly think of a better way of ascertaining it. I’m open to suggestions, though.


Of course, but isn’t such an exercise fraught with danger? To come to any sort of hypothetical conclusion about such things, we need to “play God”. We need to judge our neighbours, not just in deed, but in motive and culpability.

If I were to judge too harshly, I would lack charity.

If I were to judge too leniently, I would lack zeal for Christ’s Church and its mission of saving sinners.

The only thing I can really say then is that I *hope *mortal sins are infrequent, through God’s great compassion towards us. Or perhaps that if they are frequent, that His grace and mercy is sufficiently abundant for any given sinner.


I don’t think so. I think we, as a society, have become embarrassed at such words as “mortal sin” and “hell”, but Jesus certainly wasn’t. Nor St. Paul. Nor the Church Fathers. Nor the Medievals. Nor even our immediate Catholic forebearers until the last half-century or so (no I’m not blaming the Council). The idea that mortal sin is a common occurrence is all over the Gospels.

Remember, we’re never told to not judge “humanity” we’re simply not to pronounce upon the final state of an individual soul (which, of course, includes declaring grandma in Heaven at her funeral as much as declaring a sinner in Hell) because we can never know for certain the state of any individual soul when they die.


When did stating a fact become judging? Give me that “Old Time Religion” ! God made it quite clear what sin is. Amen


MIllions of abortions per year, thousands of murders per year, many more thousands of rapes, and muggings… NOT ALL are mortal sins, but I would guess a big majority of these things, folks know what they are doing is seriously wrong and they do it anyway.

The saints tell us many souls fall into Hell every day…we pray that they are wrong, but I fear they are not. May God have mercy on all of us !


Amen to that. :thumbsup:


I’m quite happy to stipulate that mortal sin happens frequently, if you’re talking about objective mortal sin, AKA grave matter.

But the question you ask has required assessment not only of objective acts, but of the intend and knowledge of those commiting such acts. This is beyond my capabilities, and I strongly suggest beyond yours and others too.

As for the idea that the gospels describe mortal sin as a common occurence, this is untrue. The terms itself appears only later in the first epistle of John, describing a “sin that leads to death”. The gospels and the epistles rightly warn of many sins that would lead one to hell, but that’s different from saying that they imply such sins are frequent or done with the intent/knowledge neccessary for condemnation.

You mention hell. I’d suggest that speculation about the frequency of subjective/personal mortal sin is about as useful as speculation about the number of souls in hell. We have sufficient warnings regarding both, but no specifics. No doubt you might quote to me something like “wide is the road that leads to death”, but we really don’t know how to interpret that (whether it implies that hell is heavily occupied) and the Church has never made any attempt to do so.


Why does even bringing the subject up make you uncomfortable enough to reply like this? Yes, I mention hell. As did Jesus. And St Paul. And the Church Fathers. And St Augustine. And St Thomas Aquinas. And St Teresa of Avila. And St Catherine of Siena. And St Faustina. And the Fathers of Vatican 2. Would you reprimand them as well?

Can I recommend a book? Will Many Be Saved by Ralph Martin. Worth the time.


Uncomfortable? You make out as though I’m replying with lack of rationality. Perhaps you could just respond to what I have written and not speculate on my comfort levels.

I have read other works by Martin so might take a look at this. But my main point is that speculations about either hell’s occupancy or the frequency of subjective mortal sins are just that…speculations.

I’m happy for moral theologians, Church fathers, Church doctors, etc to discuss such things. I’m not too happy that lay Catholics want to start making assumptions about the state of other people’s souls before God, which is what we do when we assume others are committing subjective mortal sins. I’d suggest we all focus on taking the planks out of our own eyes than on the sawdust in others’ eyes.


Accept my apologies. You’re quite right.

Martin’s book is well worth reading. My reason for posting this poll, as stated above, is simply to get a feel for what Catholics on CAF think about the frequency of mortal sin. I’m not trying to definitively decide the issue.

I agree wholeheartedly. We should never presume to know the final state of any particular individual soul, but we can (and should, I’d argue) discuss the frequency of mortal sin and even the likelihood of many or a few being damned. Not to damn others, but to be better prepared ourselves. The Tradition of the Church is not silent on the matter, why shouldn’t we lay Catholics discuss it? That sounds like the worse form of clericalism, allowing only “professional Catholics” to discuss something that concerns us all.


Fair enough, you did say that.

Yes, you are right that stifling such discussion is unhelpful. I’m always weary where the discussions are going and why people hold the views they do. But then I’d be starting to make the sorts of assumptions about others that I’m criticising myself, so sorry if I’ve done that. Perhaps I should sit back and see where you are heading?

That said, I hope you will accept what I’ve said as a sort of contribution to this discussion. I still think the position that it’s not our place to make assumptions has its place in this discussion.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit