Theology Q and A (closed)

Ask a question on a topic in Catholic theology.

This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Theology Q and A (closed)

  1. Steve says:

    How much is a person culpable for mortal sins when suffering mental illness? For example, I did not know I had generalized anxiety disorder and anxiety/depression until I was about 25 years old. Doctor prescribed a low dose anti-depressant paxil and I felt an incredible fog lift from me. I no longer felt the urge to masturbate, view pornography, and engage in fornication. I confessed all the mortal sins. I then got married. Several children. Life went very well. However, I gained a lot of weight due to side effects of paxil and doctor had me go off of at age of 40. After I got off paxil, I lost all the weight but started to masturbate again, view pornography, but felt incredible guilt. I then got back on paxil I then stopped committing these mortal sins. Had no urge to commit these mortal sins while on paxil but definitely felt it when off of it. I confessed these mortal sins again.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Mental illness can decrease the culpability for mortal sins, depending on the degree that the illness affects the person, their free will, and their understanding of morality. It sounds like your illness has a substantial affect on your free will, causing objective mortal sins to have the culpability of only actual venial sin. It does seem to be possible to have anxiety and depression, and still avoid these sins, so I don’t think you have zero culpability. I would say you should do all you can to avoid those sins, confess them if they occur, but do not worry about it too much.

  2. Francisco says:

    Is the following statement regarding Justification vs Salvation correct?:

    Justification is a gift from Jesus on the Cross to all humans so that we can enter Heaven (which was closed to us because of Original Sin); however, we can lose that justification by an act of actual mortal sin and thus lose salvation.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Aquinas argues that once an individual has reached the age of reason he is either in a state of sanctifying grace or mortal sin. There isn’t a single second that passes by where he is in original sin alone.

    He either directs his will/reason towards God, or he commits a mortal sin.


    (1) Do you hold to this position? If not, explain your reasons for not holding to it.

    (2) Aquinas’s position contradicts your view regarding the decree of the council of Florence which states: “But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

    Since the souls that reach the age of reason cannot be in original sin alone, that means that this passage refers to unbaptized infants.

    • Ron Conte says:

      1. No, absolutely not. It is a clear error in St. Thomas’ work.
      2. Right. Glad you brought that up. I’ve worked with children for many years, physically and/or mentally handicapped kids, as well as emotionally disturbed kids. I’ve taken courses in human development and psychology. It is not tenable, given modern knowledge in medicine and psychology, to say that the age of reason is reached in a single instant. Children experience a gradual increase in their ability to exercise reason and free will, in their ability to understand transcendent truths, such as good, evil, love, sin, etc.

      The result is that they gradually increase in moral understanding and possible culpability. At first, they can only commit the slightest venial sins, then this possible culpability increases within venial sin. It may be some considerable time after the age of seven that youths become merely capable of actual mortal sin.

      Moreover, there is no reason to think, given this gradual increase in moral responsibility, that the person ever reaches a point where they realize, by natural law alone in many cases, that God exists and they must decide whether or not to worship Him — thereby resulting in the opinion that everyone beyond a certain age is in a state of actual mortal sin or the state of grace. And the Church does not teach that persons beyond the age of seven, who are baptized, are all either in a state of actual mortal sin or already in the state of grace.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I’m sorry, I don’t have any interest listening to those videos. It’s too much of my time, and I don’t think it is useful to argue about this kind of thing.

  4. Francisco says:

    What is the difference between “Justification” and “Salvation”?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Justification is being in the state of grace: being holy, being a child of God, being right before the eyes of God. Salvation is eternal life in heaven; it is also the path to that end.

  5. Is slavery intrinsically evil?
    If so, did the Church ever teach that slavery was permissible?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Indentured servitude is not intrinsically evil (sometimes called slavery in some bible translations). Actual slavery is a set of acts, not a single act. I explain, in my book The Catechism of Catholic Ethics, that slavery as a set of acts can be considered intrinsically evil since the principle acts that define the set are each intrinsically evil acts: the acts by which persons are brought into a state of slavery, kept in slavery, and how they are treated in slavery.

      The Church has repeatedly condemned slavery, even centuries ago, but the Church permitted indentured servitude (which is where the confusion lies on this point).

  6. Jonathan says:

    In a previous article you stated,

    “None of these sources address the question: implicit faith in God via faith in the things that are of God, such as love, truth, justice, mercy, etc. Faith in these things is implicitly faith in God.”

    For something to be of divine faith (the only faith that saves), implicit or explicit, it must be accepted on divine authority. Otherwise, it’s simply human faith. “Divine” vs. “human” faith refers not to the object of belief, but to the authority that is the basis of belief. Divine faith entails trust in God who reveals, while human faith involves trust in human reason and senses. That only the first kind of faith saves is indicated by Christ: “because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 16:17)

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t agree with your definition of faith. Baptized infants have love, faith, hope, and they don’t adhere to certain teachings based on divine authority. I don’t want to keep arguing. The Q and A section is for questions that you don’t know the answer to, and which you think I might know the answer.

  7. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
    Whom should we be executing? Wiccans?

    • Ron Conte says:

      That is an Old Testament discipline; the Mosaic death penalty was dispensed by Christ.
      better translation:
      {22:18} You shall not permit practitioners of the black arts to live.
      This refers to persons who appealed to fallen angels by means of the occult. It is persons cooperating with devils. So it does not refer to Wiccans.

  8. Is there some way I can find all the posts I made to this site, so that I can find your answer to a question I asked, say, a year ago without having to ask it again?

    • Ron Conte says:

      You could use Google Search, with these terms: Mazanec
      and then add search words after your name to find the particular comment

  9. Matt Z. says:

    What are your thoughts about Richard Rohr comments like this:
    “The Bible might be inerrant spiritually, but historically, scientifically, culturally … it’s a mass of contradictions from beginning to end. Now, I won’t offend Catholic by that because Catholics don’t know very much about Scripture.”

Comments are closed.