Original sin


I’m so confused about the RC teaching on Original sin. I tried reading the CCC, but it seemed to confuse me even more.

I read paragraphs CCC 402-421 on the original sin, however, I’m confused as to whether the RCC teaches that each person is “guilty” of Adam’s sin? That Adam’s sin is passed to his descendents or not?

on the one hand paragraph 419 suggests there is “We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, “by propagation, not by imitation” and that it is. . . ‘proper to each’” (Paul VI, CPG § 16)" (CCC 419)

But paragraph 405 says something that appears to me to be somewhat contradictory “Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle." (CCC 405)

Thanks for the help. God bless.


I got got into a discussion last night about the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) versus the Baltimore Catechism (BC), so I couldn’t resist.

(I’ve been trying to write this for 1 hour now, and I understand why the Catechism is so muddy. I get it conceptually, but figuring out how to write it down clearly is being a royal pain!)

I’ll try to explain it more clearly:
Adam’s and Eve committed the original sin by making the free will choice to reject God’s love and Word; they chose to eat the forbidden fruit. This choice, rejecting God’s grace, inherently changed the basic nature of their souls. They now lacked the grace to inherently go to heaven.
God forgave them of this sin, but as punishment for rejecting his love, he did not restore their original basic nature. Their souls did not possess the grace to reach heaven inherent within them.

Adam and Eve, our first parents, transmitted this changed nature to their descendants, all the way from Cain, Abel, and Seth, to us.

You and I weren’t there to make the choice about eating the fruit, were we? We cannot each be personally guilty of choosing to eat the fruit by our own free will.

Therefore, original sin is not a personal sin.

Nonetheless, at birth, our nature does not possess the grace to go to heaven, so we’re “guilty” of original sin; we’ll suffer Hell just the same as if we had made the choice of the original sin ourselves.

Baptism transforms us fundamentally with God’s heaven-bound grace, so we no longer suffer the consequences (ultimate death, Hell) of original sin, but we still suffer from concupiscence, that tendency toward sin. That original sin and concupiscence are primarily what we call human nature.

Thank God for his Sacramants of Healing!!



Thanks so much John. That was a very helpful post.

Just to clarify, is it fair to say that the RCC differentiates between the original sin and personal sins?

Also to clarify were you saying that to a RC, original sin would be treated the same way before God as personal sins on the day of judgement?

I’m not trying to attack the RC belief by my questions. I’m just trying to pinpoint what the RCC actually believes for an article I’m writing.

Thankyou and God bless.


Hello Ematouk, blessings and a happy new year to you.

yes the CC differentiates between original and personal sin. Original sin involves no personal guilt but is a state in which we lack sanctifying grace i.e. the grace which makes us just in the sight of God. Without sanctifying grace we are unjust in the sight of God and are not worthy to enter Heaven (or Purgatory).

As regards judgment, we will be judged according to how much we have loved God and neighbour but it is grace or the lack of it that determines our ultimate fate.

I hope this clarifies things a bit.

God bless,


This is just another recurring case in why the Baltimore Catechism should be used.

Read this:



funny. CCC is an official publication of the holy see for the whole church. Baltimore is a publication of the American bishops that met in Baltimore with the aproval of Rome. CCC is designed to be a master copy that the nationalist catechisms would use for refferance. The Balimore therefore would be the servant of the CCC.


Very true, but that doesn’t mean it’s as good, or as straight-to-the point and clear as the Baltimore, or any other Catechism for that matter.


I ask because that looked like a pretty clear and definitive teaching on the subject, but I would not have expected something that involved based on previous experience (which I admit was not all-encompassing).
Was that part of #4?

As an aside, there’s another thread in here about the Baltimore Catechism (BC) vs the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Might make some good reading to help explain why the BC seems clear and concise, while the CCC leaves you scratching your head.

Does tend to beg the question about why we don’t see the BC in stores all over though, doesn’t it? (How much do the bookstores REALLY know on this subject?)



What is wrong with saying, man this is some deep stuff that I will not be able to grasp in it’s fullness?
Anything you can grasp fully is not of God.


Because God gave us a mind to use.


Yep, #4. It goes in-depth and is straight-forward, which are things that the CCC both lack at times.


I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use your brain jack. I’m saying that this is a topic you will never fully grasp in all of it’s aspects.


is the BC infallible like the CCC?

Can someone quote the BC in full assurance that it is correct?

Thankyou and God bless.


Neither the BC or CCC is infallible although both contain infallible teachings.


Here’s the way I described it to a 6th grade PSR class…

There’s this couple who decides to move undergound…deep deep within the deepest darkest cavern. There they settle and raise their family, and their kids grow up in this darkness and raise their family, etc…

Now think of sunlight being that state prior to original sin - the choice of the first parents to move into darkness was that first (original) sin. All their offspring are now raised in that darkness - they didn’t choose to personally, but it’s the state they are born into. They aren’t guilty of moving away from the light, but they have the effects of that guilt - darkness - in their very existance, and they still have to be “freed” from it in order to move to the light.

Jesus is the rescuer…he comes down to them in the darkness of their sin to bring them out of it. Gives them a flashlight (baptism), tells them to grab a hold of him and follow him - and in order to do so they must trust in Him totally and follow Him (that is the Christian life, life in His Church) and eventually, they will leave the cave for good and enter into the sunlight (heaven).

That’s it in a nutshell…it’s been a few years since I gave the talk. It’s not a perfect analogy - but it communicates some of the basics.

Peace in Christ,



Thats a very nice explaination of Original Sin DustinsDad. This is how us Orthodox Christians understand the Original Sin.

But since reading the CCC and recently the BC (which I hadn’t heard of before), I have somewhat came to the conclusion (to use your analogy) that according to the Roman Catholic Church, the “guilt” of the parents for moving into the “darkness” is also transferred to the offspring as well as the effects of moving into the darkness. That is how I understand CCC 419. I think the RCC quotes Romans 5:19 as evidence that the “guilt is inherited to all the offspring”.

Am I understanding the RCC view correctly? Any comments from anybody else?

God bless.


ematouk, why not obtain a Compendium of the Catechism? The CCC contains the what. The compendium contains most of the what and more of the why. It can be of great assistance. Coincidentally, it is available right here:


Or, at your local Catholic store.

May Christ’s peace always be with you.


Thanks - that’s how I’ve always understood it. and I’m a cradle catholic.

Well then, tweaking my analogy a bit, it could be further clarified that the sin of the original parents was choosing to go where God said not to go…and the punishment was the darkness that resulted in that choice. Therefore, the state of the offspring being in darkness is a state of being in the punishment. They inherited the guilt, so to speak, by inheriting the punishment.

This would hold with the paragraph from the CCC in question:
CCC 419 “We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, “by propagation, not by imitation” and that it is. . . ‘proper to each’” (Paul VI, CPG § 16).
and from the good ol’ Baltimore:
47. Q. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?
*A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called Original Sin. *
**48. Q. Why is this sin called original?
**A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our souls.
Perhaps we use different language here to describe the same basic reality. To be honest, I didn’t know we were on different pages here with the Eastern Orthodox.

Peace in Christ,



Yes, that’s pretty much how I’ve understood it. Key for me has always been the part that isn’t explicitly mentioned:
God’s saving grace (to get to heaven) is incompatible with choosing evil. By making the free will choice to eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve, and therefore human nature, fundamentally lost saving grace.

God, in his desire to allow us to be absolutely free if we so choose, did not “re-institute” saving grace within Adam or Eve’s nature, but allowed them to pass on a fallen nature to their children. He also made the first prophesy about how that saving grace would be restored.

Within Catholic faith, we believe that Christ himself “re-instituted” saving grace by dying on the cross, exhorting us to believe in Him, and to demonstrate that belief by undergoing the “transfiguration” of Baptism, that sacramant that transforms us in water and spirit by stating explicitly that we’re baptized, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

I’m curious though too.
How has the Orthodox view been seen to be different?



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