Please help me with this moral teaching

868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them :

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

  • by protecting evil-doers.

“When we have an obligation to do so”
What does this mean exactly? Do we have an obligation to not lead close friends and family into sin or does this effect everyone we encounter in real life and online?

Many secular people do not take kindly to being told what is a sin and what not. Doing so will cause them to turn the other direction and harden their hearts to god and the church.

Will It be a sin to not disclose to those who will not heed your warning.

It depends on the gravity. If it is life altering such as someone planning on getting a vasectomy then I speak up. I do not want them to come to me later and say that I was the only catholic they knew and said nothing while they mutilated their body. If I knew about it somehow then I think I have the right to speak. If it is mild crude joking then I do not say anything depending on the people that are there. Case by case I guess.


I’m glad you brought up vasectomy. Years ago before I started studying Church teaching in depth I was asked to drive my brother in law to his vasectomy. I knew it was self mutilation, and also knew he did not believe it to be so. I was conflicted.
I brought the issue to a priest and he said by driving him I am not condoning the action I am serving the person by caring for them. Which was confusing to hear. By chance someone else took him but not because I refused.
Based on what I know now I would have drawn a hard line and vocalized the evil of the action and that I would not take any part in it. Which appears to be in accordance with that section of the Catechism. That’s how I would respond now.


Some might see this as a drastic analogy, but having someone tell you they are going to commit mortal sin and saying nothing is like listening to someone talk about suicide or self-harm and saying nothing.

I would say unlike something serious of a physical nature like immediate danger you probably shouldn’t make your point each and every time it comes up.

For example, when my friends joke about porn I do occasionally voice my dissent. I don’t constantly moralize about it every time it comes up and suck the air out of the room. That’s how you ruin you chance to ever speak into their lives again.

Thank you for your post. You and OP helped me solve a dilemma.

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Great post!

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“By not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so”

“When we have an obligation to do so”

What does this mean exactly? Do we have an obligation to not lead close friends and family into sin or does this effect everyone we encounter in real life and online?

I’m glad it solved somebody’s deliemma. If you can, please take a shot at the questions I have stated in the original post. It’s driving me nuts.

If it’s any consolation, it drives me nuts too. I’m trying to get one of my non-Catholic friends to stop shopping on Sunday. He doesn’t like it when I tell him the good Lord hates it. Do I commit a sin by not telling him about it? Or to paraphrase chessnerd321, not mention it so as not to ruin any chance of talking to him?

It’s one thing to get something urgent (like your medicine) but to make a habit of shopping on Sunday when you can do it on another day of the week (and he can) is one of the sins which gravely offends Our Lord.

Our Lord gave Sister Mary of St. Peter the mission to spread devotion to His Holy Face in reparation for sin, especially for blasphemy and the profanation of Sunday.

Words of Our Lord to Sister Marie de Sainte-Pierre, Nov. 24, 1843

“The earth is covered with crimes. The violation of the first three Commandments of God has irritated My Father. The Holy Name of God blasphemed, and the Holy Day of the Lord profaned, fills up the measure of inequities. These sins have risen unto the Throne of God and provoked His wrath which will soon burst forth if His Justice be not appeased. At no time has these crimes reached such a pitch.”

Our Lord said this in 1843 - over 175 years ago. Sadly, it’s still true today!

This requires prudence. To put into effect that which we can. To somehow accept that which we can’t control. To have the wisdom to know which is which.

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My brother tells me “I am going to rob the 7-11 on Tuesday”. We have an obligation to warn the 7-11 owner, to take our brother’s car keys away, etc.

It is not a sin to shop on Sunday, so, there is that.

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As the person said above the only person that we can truly change is ourselves . Lead by example its all you can really do.

Does this obligation extend to strangers you meet online or day to day?

If I am walking by a stranger and he says to his buddy “I am going to rob the liquor store. Hold my phone til I get back” I would absolutely call the police.

Do you have an obligation to the strangers online.
I’m going out on a limb here. Let’s take my family that I will probably have a long relationship with, over years. I am thinking of strategy, waiting for the strategic moment. Praying for them every day.
If there’s someone online firing arrows at them and hardening their hearts, this is making my job a lot more difficult.

So, pray before you engage.
Offer the carrot rather than the stick.
I know so many people that hear the words ‘you shouldn’t do that’ respond with anger and rebellion. Many times you have to think smart, offer them something better than the thing they want. It’s a chess game. At the end of the day give all your efforts to God and ask him to be in that situation.

Friend is en route to rob the bank. What to do???


Yes. We cannot afford to be naive.
‘Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’ - Matt 10:16

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I am confused as to why you would do this. There is nothing in Church teaching that says one cannot shop on Sunday.

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