Mortal Sin and Venial Sin

The Catholic Church distinguishes between mortal sin and venial sin because, while all sin harms man’s relationship with God, the amount of harm depends on the qualities of the offense.

For a sin to be considered a mortal sin, it has to be of a serious nature like violating God’s Law in the Commandments. The person must know what they are doing is wrong and how serious it is, and they have to do it willingly and on purpose.

Mortal sin destroys sanctifying grace in the soul and separates the sinner from God. Mortal sin must be confessed to a Catholic priest so that God’s grace and mercy can restore the relationship. Unrepented mortal sin leads to eternal punishment.

Venial sins are less serious, are done without full knowledge, or are committed against a person’s will. These sins damage man’s relationship with God but do not destroy it.

Although venial sins do not have the same impact, they still offend God and can make a person more vulnerable to mortal sin.

Not all sin is the same:

Different gravities of sin:

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

1 John 5: 16-17

Wounding versus destroying:

Completely different qualities of sin:

Sin that leads to death and sin that does not:

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1855

Distinguished by gravity, knowledge, and will:

Evident in Scripture and validated by human experience:

According to St. Thomas, in order to live spiritually man must remain in communion with the supreme principle of life, which is God, since God is the ultimate end of man’ s being and acting. Now sin is a disorder perpetrated by the human being against this life-principle. “And when through sin, the soul commits a disorder that reaches the point of turning away form its ultimate end God to which it is bound by charity, then the sin is mortal; on the other hand, whenever the disorder does not reach the point of a turning away from God, the sin is venial.” For this reason venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity and therefore eternal happiness, whereas just such a deprivation is precisely the consequence of mortal sin.

Pope John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 2 December 1984

Mortal sin must be confessed to a priest:

Different means of forgiveness for different types of sin:

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