A few weeks ago as I was driving around town, I tuned into the local Catholic radio station and caught an encore presentation of “Mother Miriam Live,” hosted by conservative Catholic nun, Mother Miriam (aka Rosalind Moss, photo above). In this particular episode (video below), listener Marie sent in an email to the show asking what the difference was between venial and mortal sins. In Roman Catholic theology, venial (pardonable, small) sins can be expiated by attending mass. Any unforgiven venial sins will allegedly be punished/cleansed in purgatory. However, mortal (deadly, grave, major) sins supposedly can only be forgiven by a priest in the confessional. Any unforgiven mortal sins will send a person straight to hell according to Catholic theology. But where exactly is the line between venial and mortal sins? Mother Miriam states the difference is obvious. Hmm.
The Catholic apologetics website, “Catholic Answers,” attempts to help Catholics differentiate between mortal and venial sins with the “explanation” below:
“For example, deliberate hatred can be venial sin or mortal sin depending on the seriousness of the hatred. The Catechism explains, “Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm” (CCC 2303). Another example is abusive language. “Abusive language is forbidden by the fifth commandment but would be a grave offense only as a result of circumstances or the offender’s intention” (CCC 2073).
Ach. After reading the above, a reader is no further ahead differentiating between venial and mortal sin. It’s all subjective interpretation.
Mother Miriam then referred her listeners to an article, “15 Mortal Sins Catholics are Missing in Their Confessions” written by traditionalist priest, David Nix (link far below), to demonstrate that many Catholics are unaware that they often commit mortal sins. In the one-hour broadcast, Mother Miriam attempted to get through the list, but only reviewed the first five. Below is the full list with a few comments from myself.
- Contraception, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), and Abortion – The use of non-abortifacient contraceptives is not sinful. The RCC-endorsed rhythm-method aka “natural family planning” hypocritically aims for the same result as artificial contraception. Catholic surveys reveal the vast majority of Catholic married couples use contraceptives in defiance of RCC teaching.
- Masturbation and/or viewing pornography, before marriage or within marriage – God’s Word states that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). Using pornography is sinful in all circumstances (note: there are many examples of paintings with nude characters at the Vatican and at other Catholic institutions – see here). As far as masturbation within marriage goes, see my note below regarding, “In marriage, anything unnatural.”
- Immodesty, including wearing leggings and short shorts – I’ve observed Christian women wearing skin-tight leggings/yoga pants even at church. Yes, sisters, that is sinful. It’s immodest and it’s tempting your brothers to lustfully ogle you. Whoops! Almost forgot. These days, congregants at trendy mega-churches must also endure hipster pastors trotting around in skin-tight and semi-revealing skinny jeans.
- Before marriage, making-out or anything more passionate than that – Fornication is sinful.
- In marriage, anything unnatural – Let the marriage bed be undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). Christian married couples don’t need Catholic celibate priests or nuns dictating to them what is and isn’t God-honoring in the bedroom. As we’re all well aware, Catholic priests have a scandalously poor track record themselves in regards to unnatural sex acts.
- Homosexual acts – Sinful.
- Chronic failure to catechize your kids – Catholic parents “catechize” their children with the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
- Greatly harming someone’s reputation – Gossip is sinful (1 Timothy 5:13).
- Missing Sunday Mass without good reason and/or unnecessary work on Sunday – The vast majority of Catholics (70% – pre-COVID) don’t attend obligatory weekly mass.
- Denying your workers a fair wage – This is subjective. What is a “fair” wage? The vast majority of people don’t control payrolls anyway.
- Getting drunk or high – Sinful.
- Saying the name of Jesus in vain – Sinful. Many Catholics seek to “get around” this by exclaiming, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
- Denying the Catholic faith, including any involvement in the occult, even tarot cards or Ouija boards – This is ironic because Catholicism promotes necromancy by teaching praying to dead saints. I denied my former Catholic “faith” when I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone and came out of works-righteousness Catholicism. Mother Miriam would view me as a damned apostate, but I am a child of God because of my faith in Christ Jesus while she is a lost works-religionist.
- Skipping Friday Penance – The U.S. Catholic bishops lifted the ban on meat on non-Lenten Fridays in 1966 and substituted a mandatory “act of penance” instead. Very few Catholics comply.
- Receiving Holy Communion with any of the above sins on your heart – EVERY Roman Catholic has sin on his/her heart when they consume the alleged consecrated Jesus wafer. Thinking that they’re without sin when they line up for the faux Jesus wafer is sanctimonious self-deceit (Luke 18:9-14).
Roman Catholics seek to justify themselves by going through a list like the one above and concluding that they don’t commit any of the sins. But God’s Word says there is NOT ONE who is righteous (Romans 3:10-12). We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. Such wearisome list-checkings are exercises in futility. If you don’t commit the “sins” (not all of them are sins, as I indicated) on this specific list in deed, you may commit them in thought. Every person disobeys God’s moral laws in thought, deed, and by omission every day. Catholics will strain and strain over the distinctions between venial sins and mortal sins when all such differences are arbitrary and will change depending upon which priest is consulted. Sin is sin and we are all guilty sinners deserving of God’s eternal punishment. But God loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all who trust in Him.
“20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” – Romans 3:20-22
Repent of (turn from) your rebellion against God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.
15 Mortal Sins Catholics are Missing in Their Confessions