What is demerit?


I’ve seen the term ‘demerit’ used in Catholic teaching, but I’m not sure what it means. Does it mean only the punishment we deserve for our sins, or does it [also] mean that we lose merits we have already gained through our good works? :confused:


Can you give an example where it is used, a quote?


Yes, can you give an example please? Personally, I’ve never seen the word “demerit” used in Catholic teaching… and I attended parochial (Catholic) school for 7 years. :shrug:

Is it possible that you are thinking of stupid “nun jokes” which talk about giving students demerits? Seems to me, that I’ve heard a few jokes… along those lines. Just a thought.

God bless.


Well for example it’s used in many articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia: on Sin;

Internal liberty is not required for merit or demerit. Liberty from coercion suffices…


The pains of hell differ in degree according to demerit…

and Merit;

From this it naturally follows that merit and reward, demerit and punishment, bear to each other the relation of deed and return; they are correlative terms of which one postulates the other.

If Merit is to reward what demerit is to punishment, do they affect one another at all? Can we lose our rewards by demerit? :confused:


this thread made me chuckle.

i went to Catholic school and it was a white slip of paper that we received if we did something bad behavior wise like talking, not doing homework etc. three demerits and then you got the pink slip which was a detention.

i could be wrong, but i have never heard the word demerit associated with our souls and sin. of course driving your teachers nuts probably was a sin… :whistle:


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