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Henrik wrote:

Hi, guys —

I will now ask a tough question that I did not see answered in the Catechism . . . from paragraph 1854 onwards).

  • It states that sin starts in the heart. So far so good.
  • It states that you must have reached the age of reason in order to sin. So far so good, right? <Nope.>

If sin starts in the heart then infants must be able to sin even if they haven't reached psychological maturity. I have actually heard that if a infant dies, it can't stand before Jesus and choose Heaven or Hell (that was from a Catholic homily) so that infant would only go to Limbo or Heaven.

  • Sin is about psychological maturity? <Sounds weird!>

Sin to me is not about actions; thus I will never become part of God's Catholic Church. I can't tell a Priest about actions I did since sin is in my heart. I just live out certain things with my actions.

  • What does Catholic theology say about this?

Henrik

  { How does Catholic theology view giving a pass to kids who haven't reached psychological maturity? }

Bob replied:

Henrik,

Thanks for the questions, and let me try to understand where the objection and potential misunderstanding lies.

  • Is it that, it appears the Church is giving a pass to children because they haven’t reached psychological maturity?

If not, can you explain more — I’m not fully getting it.

If so, perhaps language is getting in the way. There are two sides to sin:

  1. the objective and
  2. subjective.

All sin is objectively evil in as much as it is contrary to God's Will. The subjective part is how much culpability an individual has. In other words, how much God will hold someone accountable for the sin. Whether a sin is merely in the heart or acted out, is a matter of gravity. One who is simply tempted to sin, but doesn't act on that temptation, may not be considered culpable by God.

There is another critical distinction that the Church makes that may also help to clarify this issue: venial and mortal sin. All sin is sin, but some sins are deadly, even for believers.

You must read 1 John 5:16-17, to see how Scripture describes it but, for the Church, you really have to know that what you are doing is sin, and do it any ways — something that little kids aren't fully capable of doing until they have passed through the fantasy years. How that culpability is measured in any individual is really God's business, but the Church has given a broad guideline for an explanation that the faithful can understand.

Lastly, anything you have heard from that priest about Limbo has nothing to do with the Church's teaching — there is no dogma [or doctrine] about Limbo; that’s a whole different topic, but it isn't correct.

All die and will be judged by Christ, and that matter belongs to Him. We could talk about that more but in a different conversation.

I hope that helps for now.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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