Faith/Spirituality Forum: Mortal sin for non-Catholics
Mortal sin for non-Catholics QUESTION from Sharon Hughes on October 23, 2001 Is it possible for non-Catholic Christians to commit mortal sin? Or, in other words, does the Church's teachings about sin apply to everyone or just Catholics? I'm a little confused by this, because for example: as a Catholic, I commit a mortal sin if I fail to attend Mass on Sunday, and in order to be able to receive communion again, I'd need to go to confession.
Obviously, a non-Catholic would never attend nor expect to attend Mass on Sunday. That wouldn't mean they committed a mortal sin, would it? Furthermore, how would a non-Catholic Christian - who doesn't have the sacrament of confession to absolve them of their sin - go about getting absolved for their sins?!
God bless you and the wonderful work that you do. Sharon.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on February 8, 2002 Dear Miss Hughes:
Yes, non-Catholics, even non-Christians can and do commit mortal sin, but the specifics of that mortal sin with non-Catholics, and especially non-Christians is left up to the mercy of God.
Non-Catholics are not subject to Catholic rules, but those things which are grave sin, are grave sin regardless. But those who are in invinsible ignorance of Christ and/or His Church not held accountible in the fullness of responsibility a Catholic is held accountible. Rather, those through no fault of their own do not know Christ and/or His church are judged according the amount of light of God that they do have. We Catholics have the FULLNESS of light; Protestants only have a couple of candles; non-Christians have even less. Each are judged according to the light that they do have, and according to God's mercy, will be judged on how they respond to that light.
When a non-Catholic Christian, or other faith communty without valid sacraments, sins they ask for God's forgiveness in the manner they are taught according to their tradition. Again, they are judged according to the level of light that they do have and since they do not have the FULLNESS of the light they must rely upon the partial light of their tradition.
While those Christians in traditions without valid sacraments may be in a state of grace through the faith that they have and the manner in which they know the forgiveness of God, the most sure and efficaious way is the way that God instituted in the Sacraments.
It is most interesting that Fundamentalists always talk about assurance of salvation yet without the Sacraments instituted by Christ one as the least assurance of all. It is only through the valid Sacraments that we can truly have the assurance of hope in God's promises of salvation.
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