Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reginald Suggests that Roman Catholics Deny the Subjective Sinfulness of Involuntary Sin

Reginald (a Roman Catholic blogger) in a recent comment on his own blog suggested that Roman Catholics do not believe that involuntary sin is subjectively sinful (although they would agree that it is objectively sinful).

In this regard they are clearly contrary to the Orthodox who routinely pray for God to forgive both their voluntary and involuntary sins, and contrary to Augustine as well.

Query for the Roman Catholic readers of this blog, is Reginald right?

The Compendium of the CCC (I guess that would make it the CCCC) seems to suggest so.

Is that right? Do Catholics seek remittance of their involuntary sins or not? If so, why?

-Turretinfan

12 comments:

Reginald de Piperno said...

Turretinfan,

More details. I hope that it may help.

Peace.

Turretinfan said...

RdP,

Thanks for the time involved in making additional comments.

I'm aware of the distinction that Roman Catholics make between mortal and venial sins. We Reformed, of course, do not make such a distinction. I don't specifically recall Augustine making that distinction, either.

Nevertheless, my question arose from a comment in the CCCC, which seemed to indicate that it is the RC position that there is no guilt associated with involuntary sins.

If there is no guilt, why would penance/confession/forgiveness be required?

Presumably the violation of the 7th (or 6th, depending how you count) commandment in the example would qualify as involuntary: the faux-bride/groom did not know that they were fornicating, thus, they were sinning without the intent to sin (hence, involuntary).

-Turretinfan

Reginald de Piperno said...

It isn't required.

As my "more details" post indicated, it's not even required for venial sins. It is recommended for venial sins, but not required. However, I'm a bit confused by your comments, so maybe I've muddied the waters. You said, in your comment here: "I was unaware that modern Roman Catholics (unlike Augustine and the Orthodox) do not seek forgiveness of involuntary sins."

Now in your most recent comment here, you say, "If there is no guilt, why would penance/confession/forgiveness be required?"

So it seems like you were first surprised that we are not obliged to seek forgiveness of what you call involuntary sins, and then you ask me why confession would be required for them.

But confession for things like that (involuntary and/or done in real ignorance) isn't required, and so we are not obliged to seek forgiveness for them.

Did I say something contrary to that? I apologize if I have contributed to the misunderstanding.

Turretinfan said...

Dear RdP,

Ah, thanks for the clarification.

Let me ask one further clarification:

are you saying that some people who enter heaven will have unforgiven sins?

-Turretinfan

Reginald de Piperno said...

Mortal sins must be confessed, and the ordinary means for that is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession).

Venial sins do not have to be confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; as Trent says, "yet may they be omitted [from the Sacrament of Reconciliation] without guilt, and be expiated by many other remedies" (Source; 14th Session, Chapter 5).

St. Thomas suggests some of these "other remedies" here; note that as he says, the right attitude of heart ("detestation of sin") towards them is always necessary.

Turretinfan said...

RdP,

Perhaps the answer to my question:

are you saying that some people who enter heaven will have unforgiven sins?

should be obvious in view of your answer. Unfortunately, I can't seem to figure it out from your answer.

Is the answer that the RCC leaves that possibility open, that the RCC says "yes" or that the RCC says "no"?

-Turretinfan

Reginald de Piperno said...

Sorry.

Mortal sins must be forgiven or one cannot enter heaven.

It would appear, based upon what I have cited from Trent and St. Thomas, that venial sins also must be forgiven, and apart from this one cannot enter heaven. Unfortunately this inference is the best I am able to offer at this time, not having ready at hand (i.e., in memory) a more direct answer for you with respect to venial sins. I apologize if this is insufficient for your purposes.

Turretinfan said...

RdP,

Thanks for the clarification. Your best guess (especially when identified as such) is good enough for my purposes.

The follow-on question is: why?

If a sin does not render the sinner guilty, why would the sinner be forgiven - indeed - what sense does forgiveness have apart from guilt?

-Turretinfan

Reginald de Piperno said...

Turretinfan,

I won't be able to answer that question without an investment of more time than I have for it right now. I think it's a good question and worth an answer, but I've tried formulating one two or three times and I am not satisfied with any of them.

I will try to get back to it when I do have time. I'll make a note for myself about it. Sorry I can't do better right now.

Peace.

Turretinfan said...

Dear RdP,

Thanks for your continued interest in the discussion. Take your time in answering!

-Turretinfan

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello Turretinfan,

Thank you for your patience. I hope that this will suffice? :-)

Peace.

Turretinfan said...

Dear RdP,

It clears up the issue of what happens to venial sins: either they are forgiven in this life, or punished in this life or purgatory.

It forces the issue to be modified slightly.

I'm going to back and reread what you already wrote to make sure I'm not missing anything, as well as digging a bit deeper into Summa Theologica (as it seems to be your preferred source).

-Turretinfan