Venial sins and consent of the will

Can you commit even a venial sin if you have 0% consent of the will in doing the act?
Can you commit even a venial sin if you have 0% knowledge (and are 100% invincibly ignorant)? of the act?

Would it always be a venial sin, but simply a question of whether or not we had guilt for it, or if we really had 0% guilt, would it not even be a venial sin?

Example: It is a Friday in Lent. Your wife played a trick on you and switched the clocks in the house. You ended up eating a hamburger on Friday even though you were certain that is was still Thursday. Would it be a venial sin to eat the hamburger or no sin at all?

Example: You hit your thumb with a hammer and scream out some profanity. Would this always be a venial sin, or could it be no sin at all?

I’m not saying we would know in any individual case whether it was a venial sin or no sin at all (because we can never be sure of our % of knowledge and deliberation), but the theological principle is something we can know with 100% certainty. Does anybody here know the answer?

There is a difference between objective and subjective sinful acts.

Obviously such sins are venial since the element of knowledge is lacking to make it possibly a mortal sin. So, yes, venial sins can be committed without knowledge. The subjective guilt of the person who committed this sin will vary, based on whether his previous actions or inaction should have given him the knowledge (for example, was he lazy as a young adult in learning his Catechism). It is quite possible that the failure to educate oneself or those under our responsibility as one should is far more sinful than a later objective sin of very grave matter.

It would be clearer I think to say that *material sins *can be committed without knowledge.

Formal sins - whether the matter is venial or mortal - cannot be committed without knowledge that the matter itself is sinful.

One can committ very serious material sin but not be guilty of committing a formal sin at all. If you are 100% invincibly ignorant, there is not even any venial sin personally.

To sin venially there must be at least some consent of the will to sin and knowledge of the sinfulness involved. If you hit your finger with a nail and screamed out a bad word without deliberation or any intent to sin, then this is considered an “act of man.” I don’t think an act of man is venially sinful, but I am not sure about this. I’ll have to ask a priest. God bless you.

Your statement is in contradiction to the Catholic Encyclopedia quoted above (“An action which, as a matter of fact, is contrary to the Divine law but is not known to be such by the agent constitutes a material sin.”) - that is not the best authority, granted, but I don’t understand why you would ignore it in your analysis. All sin that is not mortal is venial. It sounds like you are making this up.

Of course all sin that is not mortal is venial. But an act of man I don’t think is even considered a sin. For something to be considered a sin there must be some intent or deliberation. If a person innocently eats meat on Friday because he does not know it is Friday, then there in no mortal or venial sin at all involved. If a person reacts when he hits his thumb with a hammer and calls out a bad name this is considered theologically an “act of man”: and I don’t think that an act of man is considered a sin, but am not sure about this. Nothing I have said in my previous post is in contradiction with Church teaching. God bless you.

Material sin *means *that which is sinful by its nature etc but the culpability is lacking due to say invincible ignorance etc. Thus no sin was “committed” though the act was of a sinful nature.

If I took a book home and kept it honestly thinking it was my book - when actually it was not - such is theft…but I did not sin.

Look at the Encyclopedia quote:

An action which, as a matter of fact, is contrary to the Divine law but is not known to be such by the agent constitutes a material sin.

This quote admits lack of knowledge, but still calls the act sinful. Where there is no knowledge that an act is sinful, it necessarily entails that there is no intent either (with one off-topic exception). Therefore, if we accept the Encyclopedia as right for this topic, we can easily see that there is sin, even when there is no intent.

What is your source for an “act of man” theology regarding sin? Too bad the Encyclopedia entry on sin failed to mention that; it seemed so comprehensive. You might want to send them an update.

Existence is far different from culpability. A sin can exist for which there is minimal culpability. On the other hand, we have to remember that some reasons for lack of culpability - for example, ignorance - may stem from very grave sins from before.

An example - A Nazi who shoots a victim may have so contorted knowledge or will that the act is not mortally sinful for him. It is at least theoretically possible that he may not have even had any material knowledge. Nonetheless, he may be justly condemned (possibly, who knows) for failing to educate his conscience appropriately when he was younger.

You do a disservice to your argument here. There is no jurisdiction in America where this is a crime. It might lead to a private lawsuit for the tort of conversion depending on other facts, but to be criminal, theft requires in every jurisdiction the material element of specific intent to permanently and wrongfully deprive. Your example is never the crime of theft.

A material sin is by definition what I noted.

Your not discussing material sin anymore once culpability enters in. Or at least one is not discussing only material sin but also other some actual sins that have been involved.

Actually I do not. I do a service. We are NOT discussing the criminal code here – but Moral Theology. Such is theft. But in doing so I did not commit any sin.

They are all dead.

How can a person be culpable for something that they do not even know is objectively a sin? Please tell me if you can. God bless you.

Material sin was described above. Such involves no guilt - no culpability for sin. It is “material” sin. Not “actual” sin.

They are all dead.

(though hopefully all in life eternal).

No sin at all.

Though for the wife…well that is a different story (if she did that say to get you to eat meat…)

Yes one can know quite well in that case- sure.

Well that is regarding the time change and Friday…

It may have been your 5th hamburger in an hour so in that case there would be likely sin present on that account!

I do not understand your point. User “ready” said that material sin (so defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia) is not sin, in clear contrast to the plain meaning of the CE entry. Material sin can have various levels of culpability, depending on the reasons for the underlying lack of knowledge (if you prefer, no culpability is fine, as long as the original sin of lack of formation is properly accorded its just status for culpability). I have no argument with anyone on this topic that I know of.

Nevertheless, the moral sin of theft uses the same definition. If you do not specifically intend to permanently deprive another of their goods, then it is not the sin of stealing/theft. Your example of taking a hat not yours by mistake is not a materially sinful act, just a mistake of fact. The taker of the hat still knows that there are facts under which he could have stolen. To be parallel to what others were considering earlier in the thread, this is, to constitute material sin, you should have used an example where there is mistake of God’s law, that is someone thought an intended act was not theft, not against the moral code (for example, deliberately downloading intellectual property).

I’ve already done this twice above in this thread (the first quote below is from the thread’s second post; the second you may have just missed when posting):

[quote= bbentrup]The subjective guilt of the person who committed this sin will vary, based on whether his previous actions or inaction should have given him the knowledge (for example, was he lazy as a young adult in learning his Catechism). It is quite possible that the failure to educate oneself or those under our responsibility as one should is far more sinful than a later objective sin of very grave matter.
[/quote]

[quote=bbentrup]An example - A Nazi who shoots a victim may have so contorted knowledge or will that the act is not mortally sinful for him. It is at least theoretically possible that he may not have even had any material knowledge. Nonetheless, he may be justly condemned (possibly, who knows) for failing to educate his conscience appropriately when he was younger.
[/quote]

Bookcat’s sarcasm antenna needs repair. :wink:

What you say about me is false. A material sin is only a *material *sin BUT it is NOT necessarily a formal or actual sin. Objectively speaking it is a mortal sin to steal a thousand dollars from a poor businessman. But if a person has no knowledge that they are actually stealing from a poor businessman, then there is no formal or actual sin (mortal of venial committed – only a material sin with NO culpability to be attributed to the person who is doing business with the poor businessman… God bless you.

Material sin is not “sin” in the way one refers to sin normally.

It is “material sin”. There is no culpability for such. He is using “sin” in the way the poster up above is asking - in terms of culpability. Yes the act is sinful -but there was not sin committed. No culpability.

Fine one can argue such.

Theft though is: 2453 The seventh commandment forbids theft. Theft is the usurpation of another’s goods against the reasonable will of the owner.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a7.htm#2408

So my taking the persons book against that persons will can be said to be material theft.

But anyhow the example is not important.

The point is that there is something that I do which is sinful itself - materially - but which I do innocently. I do not sin due to my invincible ignorance.

The persons question of this thread has been answered above.

He did not sin by eating meat in his fictional example.

But one need not even use the term “material sin” - one will not find that term in the Catechism for example.

One can simply say “it was not a sin” meaning in terms of that which involves some knowledge and will. That which was done in innocence.

User “ready” said that material sin (so defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia) is not sin, in clear contrast to the plain meaning of the CE entry. .

[quote]What you say about me is false.

[/quote]

You made this inaccurate statement.

As per the CE, some venial sins, i.e., certain material sins, do not necessarily require any consent of the will to sin or knowledge of the sinfulness involved.

You’re calling it an “act of man,” denying its status as venial sin (pending your priest consultation). You didn’t give a source for this “act of man” theology. How did I misquote you?

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