No Mortal Sin?

I guess I must be the exception, because I know and have known all my life what sin is, and I still keep doing it. Ignorance the eighth sacrament? That seems blasphemous, even if it wasn’t meant literally. Sacrament means “oath”, and it involves the grace of God. Ignorance saves more people than the death and resurrection of our Saviour, more than baptism, communion, confession? I really wish someone could have told this to our Lord so he wouldn’t have had to suffer the way he did.

I’m sorry if my post seems rude, but I think this type of thinking is extremely dangerous, and could result in the loss of salvation because we are, in effect, saying that the Grace of God is not needed for salvation. Look at the crucifixion. See what sin did to Jesus, and then tell me that ignorance is the key to salvation.



Well are you going to tell the Bishop? It may be beneficial for you to meet with the priest sometime and get to know him a little more. And ask him some questions relevant to your concerns.

As far as how common is mortal sin…well Jesus (Matthew 17) that the gate is small and the way is narrow is the way to life and few find it.

But I think it is important to keep in mind there is a positive aspect on the flip side of mortal sin. There is growing in grace and doing the will of God. For salvation it is not merely required to not do mortal sin, but to also do good. It’s required, but it’s not talked about a lot because we so often focus on the negative…not mortally sinning.

Also, along the same lines, just how much does God expect a person to know? What I mean is, does he expect everyone to be a genius and know all the intricacies of moral law, before we are able to know enough to commit a mortal sin? I personally believe that God is perfectly reasonable (and merciful) and doesn’t expect us to be geniuses. We may not know every detail regarding all sins, but we know enough in most cases.

I have about fifty responses to this, half of them snarky. I think that there are some people who deliberately harden their consciences and others who honestly just don’t know. I can’t develop further thoughts on this without a great deal of snark, so nothing further.

God expects from us what he gives us. From those who have been given more, he expects more. That is biblical. But do you honestly think that a Catholic is going to be able to say, c’mon, why in the world is artificial birth control a sin, what’s so important about going to Mass every Sunday. I know the Church said that, but I didn’t believe it. I don’t think that will work for a Catholic.

It’s not a mortal sin for a non-Catholic not to go to Church every Sunday, but if you are a member of the Catholic Church, it is a mortal sin. Every Catholic knows that, but they don’t think it’s important. Because they don’t think it’s important, does that make it any less of a sin?

I posted on this forum to get other people’s opinions as to whether this is an important issue or whether I over reacted. You obviously feel I over reacted, and agree with the priest that most people have not committed mortal sins in their lives. I can only say that if that is true, why did Christ die?

When I was a little girl back in the 60’s, there were long lines to the confessional every week, and a lot less people receiving communion every week. Back then almost everyone admitted to at least occasionally being guilty of mortal sin.

Now almost no one goes to confession and almost every one receives communion. Does that mean people are sinning so much less? I think the reason for this is because there are priests telling people they have no sin. Is that healthy? Will this lead to salvation?


I am obviously getting under people’s skin on this one, so I’m signing off, which I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear.

But please do pray about it, and if you really think I’m wrong and judgmental, please pray for me. I mean that sincerely.



I hope you don’t sign off as this is an interesting thread. I certainly don’t consider you judgmental just discerning. You want to know what you should do about this.

Like one other poster I do suggest you talk to the Priest directly, perhaps this was an ongoing Homily subject and he was making a point or not.

I worry about Priests who make such statements especially in the setting of a Homily at Mass. If he truly believed what he was saying then he needs fraternal correction, if your talking to him doesn’t help him to better understand mortal sin, then it is time to talk to the Bishop.

In the meantime, I can certainly see how the people of his parish may not be committing mortal sins as one of the conditions is the knowledge that what is being done is grave (or mortal) in nature. If the teaching authority in their lives is not teaching them this, then they do not know. Of course with the mobility of our society many of them will have heard the truth and been taught it at one time or another so they are still not “off the hook” :D.

Brenda V.

Mary, the magnitude of mortal sin has been so downplayed in the last few decades that it’s not surprising that many people think mortal sin is hardly ever committed. We seldom hear about sin, Satan or hell from our priests anymore. Instead we are bombarded with a feel good Catholicism where we are all going to heaven, as long as we displayed Christian love for one another in this life.

I’m not surprised you have come against this attitude here. It’s what most people are indoctrinated with these days, and something a good reading of the Baltimore Catechism can certainly cure.:wink:

From the Baltimore Catechism:

[quote=BC]69. What three things are necessary to make a sin mortal?
To make a sin mortal these three things are needed:
first, the thought, desire, word, action, or omission must be seriously wrong or considered seriously wrong;
second, the sinner, must be mindful of the serious wrong;
third, the sinner must fully consent to it.

I think that is what most posters here have been saying. One cannot commit a mortal sin “accidentally.” If these Catholics have not been properly catechized, and they do not know the Law of God, they are incapable of committing a mortal sin.

In response to the OP, Christ’s sacrifice was and is necessary for salvation, for everyone. I don’t think anyone here is setting up an either/or between Christ’s sacrifice and ignorance. Because Christ died, everyone has the chance of Salvation. Christ can extend salvation to those who sinned through ignorance.

Yours in Christ,

After over thirty years in police work I feel most assured in saying that virtually no one sins through ignorance. Most people, in fact I’ll say it, we all sin for one very good reason.


Thats right, we love to sin, we revel in them and will commit them at every available opportunity. You, me and everybody else. And please none of the protestations that a committed Catholic will not sin. Get a grip


There are those that say because Adolf Hitler felt justified in the slaughter of millions that he was not really responsible. They say and it has been argued by more than a few, that since he did not perceive the magnitude of his crimes or that they were even crimes at all, he is innocent. Lacking sufficient knowledge of the criminality of what he did, how could he be truly at fault? Following the strict literal interpretation of the Churches rules, he could be found not culpable at all.:eek:

I think the churches stand on what constitutes the basis for a mortal sin has been misinterpreted by many and used to mitigate their own actions in their own eyes. Believe me except in the rare instances of severe mental illness, brainwashing or severe outside influences that can at times cloud ones judgement, we, as adults, ALL know when we commit a Mortal SIn.

Pharoh’s heart was hardened.

Out hearts can be hardened by sin.

When they’re hardened enough that we don’t realize that what we have done is wrong–don’t tell me that that is the same thing as ignorance.

And don’t tell me that anyone who seeks after Christ gets more and more ignorant and less and less culpable of Mortal sin as they have to grow in knowledge of what is right and wrong if they obey Jesus’ command to love the Lord with our entire mind.

Mortal sin is much more common than many believe and invincible ignorance of what is right and wrong is much less common than anyone believes.

It is even possible that God pricks our consciences sometimes when we have been careless and haven’t developed them as we should.

If God can give us grace don’t tell me that he can’t make our conscineces alarm us to at least Inquire as to whether something is right or wrong or ask the priest if such a thing is right or wrong in the confessional.

If children can sense when they’ve done something wrong with limited knowledge–don’t tell me that adults with much greater knowledge can’t be moved to at least inquire about the rightness or wrongness of certain acts.

To not even Inquire when the Holy Spirit pricks our consciences may not be Mortal Sin–but is risking our souls over it worth it?

Yes, we sin because it feels good, but that does not mean that all sins are mortal. Even if it is done in ignorance, a sin is still a sin, it is just not a mortal sin. I might know that something isn’t right, but I might not know the gravity of the sin. If I don’t know it is serious, and cuts me off from God’s grace, would God hold me accountable?
God is perfect in Justice and perfect in Mercy. When you combine perfect Justice and perfect Mercy, ignorance of the law is an excuse.

You might know when you commit a mortal sin, but does a 5 year old? Seeing as many people I know have the moral knowledge of a 5 year old (if that), do you really think they know if they commit a mortal sin?

Yours in Christ,

You will note that no where in my post did I say or even hint that all sins were mortal sins. You will also note that I said we as ADULTS love to commit them. Thats the truth.

A venial sin is still a sin and an affront to God.

Bringing children into the mix is irrelevent to the conversation as is the issue of mental illness, which I also pointed out.

As far as moral knowledge of a five year old, , that term requires a bot of an explanation.

A child can have Full knowledge that stealing is against one of the ten commandments and as such is grave matter without knowing All the ramifications of the gravity of that act.

Full knowledge does not mean All knowledge.

And yes you can have full knowledge as a child has full knwowledge that stealing is wrong and yes be culpable of Mortal sin!

Kid yourself if you want to with legalistic semantic intircacies about what contstitutes Mortal sin–kid yourself that what it takes to committ such a sin is nearly impossible and you’ll wind up in Hell for it for considering it venial–it not being venial and as a result of dying in a state of mortal sin you’ll receive the reward of eternity in Hell!

If you know enough to think that you can Chance it–you know enough to be culpable enough to yes–Mortally sin!

So, if a woman gets an abortion, even though she knows it will excommunicate her from the Church, but she doesn’t consider it murder because her conscience tells her it’s her right to choose what happens to her own body, is she, by your logic, in mortal sin?

You made no distinction between venial and mortal sin in your post. You simply said we love to sin, and I agree. I disagree that we all know when a sin is grave matter. A venial sin is an affront to God, but not one that cuts you off from His Grace.
You were the first to bring in mental illness, which I agree is irrelevant to the issue.
I brought up children because many people have not progressed beyond a childlike notion of life. Most people will not bother to ask themselves hard questions like “Am I living a good life?” Why do you think Socrates was put to death? He was asking people to question. For the most part, humans haven’t grown much beyond what we were in Athens.

I know I commit mortal sins, but I’m not a good representative of the average human (an INTP on the personality scale if you must know). I will reiterate, there is no way to “accidentally” commit a mortal sin. It does not require full knowledge, only the angels had that (hence Lucifer’s inability to repent), but it requires knowledge of the gravity of the sin. If you asked 100 people out on the street to tell you the Church’s teaching on ABC, how many people would be able to give you a correct answer? Would you damn the ones who honestly didn’t know?
Also, thank you for damning me to Hell. I’m glad you aren’t God, cause if you were Heaven would be a lonely place.

[quote=paramedicgirl]So, if a woman gets an abortion, even though she knows it will excommunicate her from the Church, but she doesn’t consider it murder because her conscience tells her it’s her right to choose what happens to her own body, is she, by your logic, in mortal sin?

This is a straw man, you already stated she knows she will be excommunicated, hence she knows the gravity of the sin. I am not arguing for a person’s conscious being the final arbiter (as you seem to think I am), but that the ignorant cannot commit a mortal sin according to the Church.

Yours in Christ,

Non-Catholics are still capable of mortal sin and are bound by natural law and conscience. One must have also reached the age of reason.
We can not just make blanket statements like "the majority of people have/have not commited mortal sin. That is to be determined in the confessional.
A sermon based on this sort of assumption is an injustice to the congregation as they have a right, for the salvation of their soul to hear truth, not speculation or assumption.
The priest is obligated to give the Truth as the Catholic Church teaches, and within his abilities. If he does not, then excommunication is a definite possibility if he does not repent or admit to his error. Perhaps the priest really was taught wrong. It is best to charitably and respectfully talk to the priest about it and if he refuses to hear and accept truth than it good to bring the matter to the bishop and even to let the priest know you are doing this. We (layity) should correct priest in a loving way as long as we have good solid Truth to bring him and not just an opinion…Were I a priest, I’d want to have parisoners to “get my back” if I was in that position so that I know my error and can correct it, then I would be a better benefit to the community of the faithful.

I disagree that people don’t know the gravity of a mortal sin. We are not a bunch of ill informed idiots walking around who don’t understand what is serious and what is not. It is a mistake to brush everything off as ignorance and to bask in the feigned innocence of reduced culpability.



I am not advocating that no one commits mortal sins, or that everyone is ignorant. Many people are ignorant of the gravity of their sins, and the Church teaches that they are not culpable of them because of it.
I have never basked in “feigned innocence,” just ask my confessor (not that he could tell you anything. . .). I know when I commit a mortal sin, but, as I stated before an INTP is not the best representative of the general public.

I am also a bit confused by your response. We agree that the woman has/will commit a mortal sin. It is a grave act, she has knowledge of the gravity, and does it anyways with full consent on the will. I brushed nothing off as ignorance, and I saw nothing that would lessen culpability.
If you can come up with another example that actually relates to ignorance, I’d love to debate it.

Yours in Christ,

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