Why should the Church change sins from mortal to venial to not-sins-at-all?

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timeandeternity

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First let me make it clear that I fully submit to the Catholic Church and its God-given authority. I understand that the Church has full authority to tell us whether a sin is mortal or not, because that authority comes directly from God Himself. I am simply asking “why?”
If an unrepented mortal sin is the one and only thing that can cause us to ultimately lose our salvation, what is and isn’t mortal is an issue that carries great gravity. Why has the Church attached the penalty of eternal damnation to sins such as (I know this is an overused example, but it fits) not eating meat on Fridays, and then removed that penalty from meat and applied it to a less specific practice (making some sacrifice on Friday)? In fact, this wasn’t even made entirely clear–Jimmy Akin seems to think we don’t have to make a Friday sacrifice under pain of mortal sin, while the EWTN website extensively shows that to omit a Friday sacrifice once would not be mortal, but to do so regularly (thereby showing a refusal to do penance) would certainly be mortal. I’m just confused as to why we would be condemned a hundred years ago for eating meat on Friday and not repenting; but now we’re not condemned for that–and we’re not even sure whether we’ll be condemned if we do or don’t make a Friday sacrifice at all. I really am at a loss to understand or explain all of this.
Like I said before, I absolutely submit 100% to the teaching and guidance of the Catholic Church. It is just that I don’t always understand why the Church does certain things, and would like to gain a better knowledge and deeper understanding of these issues.
 
Some sins are inherently evil. Murder, adultery, etc.

Other things are discipline. They are sins not because the act itself is evil (eating meat is not evil by itself), but because you willfully disobey the Church. Its like when your father tells you for example to not watch TV for a day. It not like watching TV is an evil act in itself, but disobeying your father is. So if you do not follow the Church’s laws and disciplines, you are guilty of disobeying the Church.

The thing here is, if you are not aware of the discipline or law, then you are not culpable. If you were poorly catechized and you didn’t know that you should abstain and fast on Ash Wednesday, then you are not culpable of disobeying the Church.
 
Just a point of correction. It is a matter of doctrine that a priest may not marry. The discipline of a celibate priesthood is that married men may not be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. If this discipline changed, a man who is already a priest still would not be able to get married.
 
Just a point of correction. It is a matter of doctrine that a priest may not marry. The discipline of a celibate priesthood is that married men may not be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. If this discipline changed, a man who is already a priest still would not be able to get married.
Look I’m not trying to argue with you but is it really a doctrine 100% if eastern catholic married priests are allowed to re-marry if they have very young children and their first wife dies? Doesn’t this exception to the rule in very rare cases prove that the doctrine can in fact be changed and is not set in stone?
 
First let me make it clear that I fully submit to the Catholic Church and its God-given authority. I understand that the Church has full authority to tell us whether a sin is mortal or not, because that authority comes directly from God Himself. I am simply asking “why?”
If an unrepented mortal sin is the one and only thing that can cause us to ultimately lose our salvation, what is and isn’t mortal is an issue that carries great gravity. Why has the Church attached the penalty of eternal damnation to sins such as (I know this is an overused example, but it fits) not eating meat on Fridays, and then removed that penalty from meat and applied it to a less specific practice (making some sacrifice on Friday)? .
in the first place it is God, not the Church, who determines which sins are deadly. The authority of the Church comes from Him, over disciplines for her members. Sins are deadly because they kill the relationship with God–it is he who initiates that relationship, he who decides when and how it is injured and to what extent. The Church merely teaches her members the consequences of those actions.

The reasons breaches of Church discipline can be deadly sins is to the extent they violate the commandments, particularly those that honor the place of God, because to act against the legitimate authority of the Church he founded is to act against him.

Eating meat on Friday, deliberately, with full knowledge and full free will consent at the time that discipline was in force, was a mortal sin only if and when it was committed with the intent to defy that authority. As with all mortal sin, it damns one only if he dies unrepentent and remains unrepentent at his judgement in front of God.
 
This thread is a good indication of why it’s so confusing to figure it all out. Someone says one thing, someone else says another, where is the truth? Is it a doctrine or a discipline? Is it fallible or infallible teaching?

If something is a discipline then it can be changed so why should we trust that we make a sacrifice that is very hard to follow a discipline and then find out next week that it’s been changed and it was all for nothing. It’s like Limbo, it was taught when I was small and now I’ve returned to the church and it’s been done away with. It’s very confusing to know what to believe and what HAS to be followed and what does not.

I don’t mean to steal this thread, but along these lines, I wonder why is it a mortal sin not to go to Mass on Sunday? You could still honor God other ways, non-catholics go to a different church and still honor God, so what sense does it make that it’s a mortal sin, punishable with eternal damnation?
 
Look I’m not trying to argue with you but is it really a doctrine 100% if eastern catholic married priests are allowed to re-marry if they have very young children and their first wife dies? Doesn’t this exception to the rule in very rare cases prove that the doctrine can in fact be changed and is not set in stone?
Re-marry is different from one who is single. Didn’t St. Paul say we are to stay at our state at the time we are called? So a single person should remain single after they are ordained. A married person should stay married (do not split up with wife) after ordination. I think this extends to if the wife dies, then they can be married again because they were married when they were called.
 
Whoa, I didn’t know not performing a sacrifice or abstaining from meat on Friday is a mortal sin! I’m just honestly curious, where does it say that? How big does the sacrifice have to be? I was under the impression that it was just highly recommended…
 
Whoa, I didn’t know not performing a sacrifice or abstaining from meat on Friday is a mortal sin! I’m just honestly curious, where does it say that? How big does the sacrifice have to be? I was under the impression that it was just highly recommended…
Its only required during Lent, optional the rest of the year.
 
First let me make it clear that I fully submit to the Catholic Church and its God-given authority. I understand that the Church has full authority to tell us whether a sin is mortal or not, because that authority comes directly from God Himself. I am simply asking “why?”
If an unrepented mortal sin is the one and only thing that can cause us to ultimately lose our salvation, what is and isn’t mortal is an issue that carries great gravity. Why has the Church attached the penalty of eternal damnation to sins such as (I know this is an overused example, but it fits) not eating meat on Fridays, and then removed that penalty from meat and applied it to a less specific practice (making some sacrifice on Friday)? In fact, this wasn’t even made entirely clear–Jimmy Akin seems to think we don’t have to make a Friday sacrifice under pain of mortal sin, while the EWTN website extensively shows that to omit a Friday sacrifice once would not be mortal, but to do so regularly (thereby showing a refusal to do penance) would certainly be mortal. I’m just confused as to why we would be condemned a hundred years ago for eating meat on Friday and not repenting; but now we’re not condemned for that–and we’re not even sure whether we’ll be condemned if we do or don’t make a Friday sacrifice at all. I really am at a loss to understand or explain all of this.
Like I said before, I absolutely submit 100% to the teaching and guidance of the Catholic Church. It is just that I don’t always understand why the Church does certain things, and would like to gain a better knowledge and deeper understanding of these issues.
Well , If you dont eat meat on Friday then its a non issue. Those who say , Its OK not to but then you see disagreement on EWTN illustrates my point. Lets say the people who say its OK not to are right - and we do penance that isnt required and abstain year round - what has happened to us? Absolutely nothing - because A Woman can veil - we all can fast we all can abstain from meat on Friday - we all can kneel and recieve Holy Communion only on the tongue and there isnt a single eccelesiastic penalty to be paid by us is there? It isd for that reason I abide by those practices no matter what other people say. When you read the lives of the Saints , they became Saints not by doing the minimum , but by doing everything they could to follow the will of GOD. My suggestion? Do as the Saints who lived before us did and not as people who do the minimum today.

Pax
 
Just a point of correction. It is a matter of doctrine that a priest may not marry. The discipline of a celibate priesthood is that married men may not be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. If this discipline changed, a man who is already a priest still would not be able to get married.
But there is a HUGE loophole here. That loop hole being that a married man who was a Minister in another denomination and converted has been allowed to become a catholic priest and remain married. We have several of these in my area. The Priest that most readily comes to mind was Episcopalin (sp?) and he, his wife and his children all live in the rectory at the Parish he serves.
 
Does anyone find it strange that during Lent we are prohibited from eating meat on Fridays but are allowed to go stuff ourselves on fish at the K of C fish fry? Does anyone really believe that is a sacrifice?

Just saying…
 
I hate to throw the sisters under the bus, but unfortunately, many of them created these problems. You see, the Church entrusted the religious education of children to teaching sisters. At the same time, the Church did not allow the sisters to study theology. Seminaries and theology houses were for men only. So you had many schools and religious education programs run by teaching sisters who had basic understanding of the faith themselves.

The sisters were trying to be faithful to the Church, as they understood it. Many of them called things by the wrong name. They taught doctrine and non-doctrine as if it were all the same. The average student in Catholic schools or religious education never heard of words such as discipline, moral, law, doctrine, dogma, ordinary magisterium, extraordinary magisterium or the magisterium of the bishop. These things always existed, but the sisters did not teach it, because no one taught them. During their years in novitiate they were trained in the rules and customs of their religious community. Once they had this down, they made first vows and were then sent to train to be teachers, nurses, social workers or whatever they did. They came back to the motherhouse, made final vows and were thrown into situations where they had to teach the faith. The stuck as closely as they could to the catechism.

Whenever the catechism failed to address a point in its totality, the sisters gave the best answer they could. They taught things such as, you could live the life of a saint and commit one mortal sin and God would write off everything that you ever did and you would be damned to hell. The Church never taught mortal sin that way. Mortal sin has two parts to it. There is the serious action that deprives us of sanctifying grace. There is also the mercy of God. We must always avoid sin, but we must also remember that God will look at our lives as a whole. We believe that at the moment of death, God grants us that one last opportunity to say “I’m sorry.” This comes through very clearly in the writings of St. Faustina. God wants to forgive. He is not a ruthless God. He is both: just and merciful. They oversimplified it. Unfortunately, it was later oversimplified in the opposite direction. Everyone got a free pass. That’s not it either. The truth is that God knows us better than we know ourselves.

The same thing happend with disciplines, doctrines, laws, dogmas and rules. It was not that the Church made something a sin and then change her mind. The Church imposed a discipline on the faithful and imposed a penalty for non compliance. Eating meat is not and has never been a mortal sin, whether it’s on Friday or Tuesday. However, non compliance is a form of pride, defiance, placing oneself above the authority of the Church. That’s serious matter, which is the first requirement for mortal sin. The second is knowledge and the third is full consent. Unfortunately, this was not well explained. What many people learned was that it was a sin to eat meat on Friday,but not why so.

The Church does not change a sin from mortal to venial. The Church has the power to bind and unbind. Therefore, she has the power to evaluate the gravity of an action. There are circumstances in which an action is very grave and others in which it is not. Let’s take the Friday abstinence. There were some Spanish dioceses that never had the Friday abstinence. The Holy See dispensed them from it, because of their significant contribution to the defense of the faith during the Muslim invasion of Spain for 800 years. It was the belief of the Holy See that these people had done and were doing enough penance maintaining their faith in a country that was ruled by Muslims. We often forget that most of Spain was a Muslim colony for 800 years. The Church was very pleased with the Spaniards of those regions, because they co-existed peacefully with Spanish Muslims and Sephardic Jews while remaining faithful. In these dioceses, abstinence was not considered a grave requirement. The people were already living heoric lives of faith.

Finally, the celibacy requirement. Celibacy is neither a doctrine nor a dogma. It is a form of asceticism. There again is another word that was rarely used during the first half of the 20th century. It had been very popular at one time and when the catechisms came out, the word was rarely mentioned, if at all. The good sisters taught us that priests could not be married. They taught it with such a sense of gravity, that we often misunderstood it to be some kind of unspoken commandment from God. This was not the case. Celibacy entered the Church as a form of asceticism that seeks to imitate the lifestyle of Christ who was celibate and remaind a virgin. It is a means of identification with Christ. It is an act of love and an act of self-discipline for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It is not a dogma. Because the Church can bind and unbind, she has created laws that regulate the practice of celibacy. Those laws are based on early Christian traditions. One of them was that ordained men did not seek marriage. Those who were to be ordained were already married or remaind continent. Since this is not a dogma, there are some exceptions made in the Eastern Churches for those priests who are widowers with young children. However, those exceptions are not automatic either. It’s up to the Ordinary to grant the permission. The bishops were never elected from among the married clergy, because they were usually monks. Monks made vows of continence. In the west, bishops were usually secular clergy. But they too followed the example set by the East. They elected celibate men as bishops. That’s how the married bishops disappeared. These are all disciplines that evolved for very good spiritual reasons.

I hope this helps.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF 🙂
 
Just a point of correction. It is a matter of doctrine that a priest may not marry. The discipline of a celibate priesthood is that married men may not be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. If this discipline changed, a man who is already a priest still would not be able to get married.
Are you sure about that? Sometime ago it was in the news that an Irish priest was allowed to renounce his clerical status to get married. Decades later he became widowed an he was given permission to resume his activity as a priest after spending quite some time in a seminary. The Church can and has allowed priests to leave the clerical status and get married; however the sacrament of the holy orders is still perpetual and indelible.
 
Does anyone find it strange that during Lent we are prohibited from eating meat on Fridays but are allowed to go stuff ourselves on fish at the K of C fish fry? Does anyone really believe that is a sacrifice?

Just saying…
Wait 'til you hear the Ukrainian “Great Fast” on Christmas eve which means fasting until Christmas morning when they receive Communinon at Divine Liturgy. There is a 12-course traditinal meal as part of the Nativity Great Fast, although its all fish and vegetables.

There are many reasons for abstinence. Cutting down on the amount of food isn’t abstinence. The fact that we selectively avoid certain foods is what gives us spiritual advantage by training our conscious thought to be able to avoid the ordinary, everyday things. Many occassions to sin are everyday, ordinary things.
 
Are you sure about that? Sometime ago it was in the news that an Irish priest was allowed to renounce his clerical status to get married. Decades later he became widowed an he was given permission to resume his activity as a priest after spending quite some time in a seminary. The Church can and has allowed priests to leave the clerical status and get married; however the sacrament of the holy orders is still perpetual and indelible.
You’re and Brother are discussing two different situations.

Let me try to help.

A priest may not marry unless he receives a dispensation from the Holy See. The conditions for the dispensation is that he accepts a voluntary suspension. In other words, he lives as if he is a layman. In English we call it laicization. It’s a misnomer, because once you’re ordained a deacon, you can never be a layman again. But that’s the term being used today. This priest is not active.

The priest who is in active ministry may not marry. That’s what Brother is saying.

It is possible for a widowed priest to be allowed to return to ministry, but it is very difficult to do. It requires a special permission from the Holy Father. The current code says that a cleric who is dispensed, even honorably, may not return to ministry, teach theology or exercise any ecclesial function again. I’m not a Canon Lawyer. I don’t know if a bishop can negotiate to have a priest “reinstated”. Theologically, I don’t see why not, but that’s just me. Don’t take my word for it. As I said, I’m not a lawyer.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF 🙂
 
Its only required during Lent, optional the rest of the year.
In the U.S. because of the Indult of 1965. Abstinence from meat on ALL Fridays is the Universal NORM of the Catholic Church.

The actual documents are a bit ambiguous.

The cool thing 😃 is that an Indult, by nature, is not meant to be something permanent (like a norm). That means that any day the Pope and U.S. Bishops could get together and say,
"You know, that Indult seemed like such a good idea because Catholicism ‘appeared’ so strong then, and people were saying that since they were vegetarians abstinence just wasn’t a meaningful penance, and others were saying it was too hard for them because of work or needing to feed a family. . .so we thought, we’ll let those super Catholics do a HARDER penance because they want to, and we’ll help out those poor Catholics who have to be able to have meat, and we’ll abrogate any sin. . .but of course, since it is the Universal Norm, and since Lent is a sacrificial time, we’ll keep the requirement for Lent. . .

but it hasn’t worked out that way. A generation and more of Catholics not only think that they don’t ‘need’ penance (while many if not most are engaging in more sinful behaviors in their lives than ever), they also think that not just this but all Catholic teachings are simply OPTIONAL! These poor Catholics have lost a sense of sin; they have lost the virtues of humility and obedience, and above all, they have lost a sense of the universality and UNITY of Catholicism.

So we, the Pope, and the bishops of the U.S., hereby revoke the indult of 1965 and once again declare that per the Universal Norm of the Catholic Church, all Fridays of the year are abstinence days for U.S. Catholics."

I for one would not be surprised to see that within my lifetime, and I’m no spring chicken.
 
Does anyone find it strange that during Lent we are prohibited from eating meat on Fridays but are allowed to go stuff ourselves on fish at the K of C fish fry? Does anyone really believe that is a sacrifice?

Just saying…
I agree with you completely. It doesn’t seem like fasting at all when you eat a huge meal of fish. I went to a fish fry at a Catholic School last year during lent. You even got dessert with the fish, chips, and cole slaw. What?!
 
I agree with you completely. It doesn’t seem like fasting at all when you eat a huge meal of fish. I went to a fish fry at a Catholic School last year during lent. You even got dessert with the fish, chips, and cole slaw. What?!
In my region of the country, the “Friday Fish Fry” is something that every restaurant/pub/bar/pizza shop does! 😃
I am a chef, and I have cooked more fish fries the past 10 years than I care to remember!!:hypno:

I have often wondered this myself, and have questioned how eating a huge fried fish dinner & all the trimmings, with dessert and cocktails is more penitent than me eating the leftover meatloaf from earlier in the week? 🤷
 
In my region of the country, the “Friday Fish Fry” is something that every restaurant/pub/bar/pizza shop does! 😃
I am a chef, and I have cooked more fish fries the past 10 years than I care to remember!!:hypno:

I have often wondered this myself, and have questioned how eating a huge fried fish dinner & all the trimmings, with dessert and cocktails is more penitent than me eating the leftover meatloaf from earlier in the week? 🤷
You see, this is where I can’t do the fish penance. I love fish. If you told me that I had to eat hamburgers every Friday we would :slapfight:

McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or the others will never make money on me. That would be a penance for me.

I don’t really worry about it, because Franciscans abstain on Weds and Fris, except during solemnities.

At my house we don’t eat fish either. The three of us are fish lovers. We do the salad thing.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF 🙂
 
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