What are the mortal sins?

I know that mortal sins require confession but what are they? Can someone provide a list? I know I could look them up somehow but I am new here and love being part of a group on this faith journey. It is wonderful to not feel alone in the questions of the heart.

Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?


One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?


One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.




Some examples of grave matter for mortal sin:

Serious detraction, masturbation, idolatry, serious theft (can be complex), murder, euthanasia, lying under oath, Missing Mass on Sunday or Holy Days of Obligation, pornography etc etc etc

There is no exhaustive list…


Bookcat provides some good links and info. As he said, there is no exhaustive list. The general rule of thumb is that the Ten Commandments refer to grave matter.

You mention you are new to this spiritual journey. Just keep going to Confession and asking the priest questions (and reading up on your faith). If discerning what is and is not a sin is particularly difficult for you, or if you think that you might have tendencies towards scrupulosity, then inquire about receiving spiritual direction.

Yes and many of them can also refer to light matter (venial matter) too.


Fr. Altier’s examination of conscience contains a long list of mortal sins (not exhaustive, but more than I’ve seen elsewhere). It is a PDF file: catholicparents.org/oxcart/Examination%20of%20Conscience.pdf

Note there are some subjective judgments of his own being made there…and some things can be confusing or unclear or not necessarily correct. Hence I do not recommend this examine per se.

For example…I do not go to Mass very often on Sundays anymore. I could go into a number of excuses why…am I going to hell? I do watch daily Mass on EWTN.

(Even if a person has committed a mortal sin – they can repent and go to confession (which would involve resolving not to commit mortal sins). So hell need not be the final choice of a person – for they still breath and can return to true life in Christ. They ought not put off the repentance – for we never know what day will be the last. And of course one in mortal sin needs to repent and confess before they receive Holy Communion)

Watching Mass on EWTN in no way fulfills the obligation. It is good but it is not being at Mass. Nor does going to Mass Monday thru Friday…

Now as to Mortal sin in a particular persons case? – look back at the above --one needs three aspects for mortal sin. Objectively it is a grave matter for mortal sin --but is there the needed knowledge and consent? The person would need to judge --and their confessor can assist them.

A person who through no fault of their own for some reason never had a clue that they needed to go to Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation --is going to be in a different boat then one who deliberately did not go to Mass.

Also a homebound person who is not able to go…or a sick person…is in a very different boat (there ARE legit excusing reasons!) —from someone who knowingly skips Mass for say a ball game…

So you mention excuses. There can be legit excuses --like one is ill…one can discuss ones reasons with ones Pastor.


2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."118

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


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