Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is
love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of
sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed
by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from
Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has
the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. How
ever, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense,
we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of
One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he
does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or
when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full
knowledge or without complete consent.
Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affec
tion for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise
of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal
punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us
little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not
break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly
reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying
grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal
While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least
some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call
“light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them,
tremble when you count them. A number of light objects
makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number
of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all,
confession. . . .
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be
forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be
There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone
who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects
the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy
Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and
134 John Paul II,
17 § 9.
135 St. Augustine,
In ep. Jo.
1, 6: PL 35, 1982.
137 Cf. John Paul II,