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Shawn wrote:

Greetings gang!

I hope all is well with everyone. I have a question on behalf of a great friend of mine, who I'm very close to.

My friend believes he may or may not have been sexually abused as a child. He does not remember for sure, but he knows that he was thinking of sex and started struggling with sins of the flesh at the age of twelve. He has had this deep ingrained habit accompanied by thoughts of sexual lust that, he says, are overpowering. He wants to leave the Catholic Church because he thinks he is in constant mortal sin. I told him that because of the habit and his psychological imbalances:

  • he is not committing mortal sin
  • God knows his true intentions, and
  • that he should just pray to God, not worry about it, dust yourself off and go on with life!

But he still feels unworthy. He says he will have impure sexual thoughts constantly, and that God does not help him in this anguish.

  • What should I do?

He goes to Confession weekly, but he still feels unworthy. I'm worried for him; we have been friends for 27 years.

I know there is something in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says sins that are habitual and psychological in nature, like duress, are not mortal sins.

  • Should I have him to read this portion of the Catechism every time he thinks
    he is in mortal sin?



  { Do you have any advice for a friend who wrestles with sex sins and thinks he's always in mortal sin? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Shawn —

Nice to hear from you again!

Based on the previous questions you have asked, you and your friend, really need to seek out a spiritual Confessor.

This is a priest that is faithful to the Church's teachings who can set some time aside to guide you and your friend appropriately.

In another reply:

My colleague Eric replied to a question from Ryan who is in a similar situation as your friend.
He said:

Given your habit, it will likely take a long time to gain mastery over this sin, and ultimately mastery is what you want. Don't settle for less, but don't be discouraged by failures.

Perhaps what your confessor is trying to say is don't be fearful of God's judgment, but appreciate His Mercy. I think if you continue to strive for purity and don't, in a premeditated fashion:

  • deliberately
  • purposefully
  • intentionally, and
  • freely
    • under no constraints
    • pressures
    • stresses
    • habits
    • impulses
    • passions
    • semi-consciousness
    • knowingly with ample deliberation

choose to commit the act, realizing fully what you're doing, it probably doesn't meet the qualification for mortal sin, so don't get worked up about it.

  1. Repent
  2. address any occasions of sin or anything that might contribute to it in the future, and
  3. move on.

It's important to realize that it's pretty hard, for someone steadfastly committed to obeying God, to commit a mortal sin, especially if they don't want to!

Your friend said:
He wants to leave the Catholic Church because he thinks he is in constant mortal sin.

If someone buys a house and after two years doesn't like the look of the kitchen, he doesn't sell the house; he looks for remedies to make the kitchen look better. Those remedies includes:

  • living the sacramental life of the Church
  • developing a daily prayer life, and
  • making visits to an Adoration Chapel when possible.

Hope this helps,


Sean replied:

Hello, Mike —


I passed on what you have said to him.


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