For something to be an actual sin within the category of a “mortal sin”, three things are necessary as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
1. Serious Matter
2. You have to know that it is a serious sin (knowledge)
3. You commit the act with full consent of the will and usually with forethought and planning
If any of those are missing, even one, the serious act is not a mortal sin but rather a venial sin. It remains a sin, though not mortal. I think this is what many don’t understand or neglect to say.
I think part of the problem with mortal sin as it was taught in the Baltimore Catechism and elsewhere in pre-Vatican II times is that its presentation often trivialized God’s love, mercy and God’s perfect common sense. It also helped to erode belief in the damage that actual mortal sins do to other people, the one sinning and the damage to salvation which opens the immortal soul to the eternal fires of hell.
For example, if a sinner on Good Friday deliberately eats a Hot Dog knowing that Church Law forbids it on Good Friday, but otherwise, this person loves God, lives an exemplary life, goes to Confession regularly, many of us pre-Vatican II children were taught that if we choked to death while eating that Hot Dog, we would go to hell because we committed a mortal sin and did not have a chance to repent because we died during the act of committing the mortal sin.
I would say that the “mortal sin” was the blatant disobedience of a Church law, not the eating of the Hot Dog, but does that deserve the fires of hell if all else in that person’s life is virtuous?
To say so would be the mortal sin of making God into something He isn’t, an ogre, small minded, unloving and vengeful even for minor infractions. It makes God a micro manager and a kind of Gestapo. I’d say doing that, making God something He isn’t is a mortal sin!
I have always presented the possibility of damnation as a lifestyle away from God, completely disconnected from Him and His Church. In addition to that, we love our sinful lifestyle more than we love God and His virtues as revealed in natural law which leads us to explicit moral teachings in Scripture and Tradition, the Deposit of Faith.
If God damns a sinner to hell, or at least allows them to damn themselves, hell is a place where these sinners will be happy because they love their sin and hate God and hell is the perfect place for that. They are sent to the most pleasurable place possible for them who love the devil.
Thus, if Church leaders fail to teach the fullness of Catholic moral teachings, which is out in the open in the CCC, out of fear of offending sinners, we enable at least venial sin, which unrepentant can harm our eternal salvation especially if it entails serious matter but the lack of knowledge that it is a mortal sin is absent.
What the homosexual lobby of the Church is doing (and I say this as in a political party’s lobby) is compromising the integrity and truth of what the Church teaches to enable people to live a lifestyle of sin while telling them that for them it isn’t a sin.
(After I wrote this post, I went over to The Catholic Thing and read the post that I link below. It says in a better way what I just wrote, but shows, nonetheless, that great minds think alike, no?)
Press the title for the link: