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The Faith

A Popular Guide Based on The Catechism of the Catholic Church

by John A. Hardon, S.J.

Part Three:  The Life in Christ



Chapter One:  The Dignity of the Human Person

   Article 1: Man, the Image of God
   Article 2: Our Vocation to Happiness
   Article 3: Human Freedom
   Article 4: The Morality of Human Acts
   Article 5: The Morality of Passions
   Article 6: The Moral Conscience
   Article 7: The Virtues
   Article 8: Sin

Chapter Two:  The Human Community

   Article 1: The Person and Society
   Article 2: Participation in the Social Life
   Article 3: Social Justice

Chapter Three:  Divine Salvation:Law and Grace

   Article 1: The Moral Law
   Article 2: Grace and Justification
   Article 3: The Church, Mother and Teacher



Chapter One:  “You Shall Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart”

   Article 1: The First Commandment
   Article 2: The Second Commandment
   Article 3: The Third Commandment

Chapter Two:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”

   Article 4: The Fourth Commandment
   Article 5: The Fifth Commandment
   Article 6: The Sixth Commandment
   Article 7: The Seventh Commandment
   Article 8: The Eighth Commandment
   Article 9: The Ninth Commandment
   Article 10: The Tenth Commandment


As Christians, we know that our faith is not just another religion. We know that Christianity is more than a set of moral regulations or a prescribed form of worship. This is made clear in The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Before the coming of Christ, there was one divinely revealed religion, Judaism, whose members were the Chosen People of God. With the Incarnation, Judaism was replaced by Christianity, whose believers became the New Israel, the New Chosen People, or, in the language of the Second Vatican Council, the People of God.

As we continue our reflections on The Catechism, we enter on its third part, which is called The Life in Christ. This section includes a detailed treatment of the Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue. The foundation for the Decalogue is what The Catechism calls “Man’s Vocation: The Life in the Spirit,” in which Pope Leo the Great declares:

Christian, remember your dignity. Now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your Head, and of whose Body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s Kingdom.

674. How does the Apostles’ Creed express our dignity as Christians?

In the Apostles” Creed we profess the greatness of God’s gifts to us. We are His creatures, whom He brought into being out of nothing. Even more, He redeemed us by the Blood of His divine Son. And most of all, He sanctified us by giving us the indwelling of His own Spirit.


675. How do the sacraments enable us to live our Christian faith?

What the Apostles’ Creed confesses, the sacraments communicate. Through the sacraments, we are literally reborn as children of God and become sharers, by grace, in the very nature of God.


676. How is Jesus Christ our teacher?

He is our teacher because we are His disciples. Christ Jesus always did what was pleasing to His heavenly Father. He always lived in perfect communion with Him. As Christ’s disciples, we, too, are expected to live in the presence of the Father, who sees in secret. In Christ’s words, we are to become perfect “as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).


677. How do we become incorporated into Christ?

By Baptism. Through this sacrament, we acquire sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural soul of our natural soul. No less than we become human beings through the soul, so we become divinized beings through sanctifying grace.


678. What is our responsibility as partakers of the divine nature through Baptism?

It is nothing less than to become dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We are to follow Christ. In union with Him, we are to “imitate God, as beloved children, and live in love” (Eph 5: 1-2).


679. How do we imitate God?

We imitate God by conforming our thoughts, words, and actions to the mind of Christ, and by following His example.


680. How are we temples of the Holy Spirit?

We are temples of the Holy Spirit because He dwells in our souls:
    • to heal the wounds of our sin;
    • to renew us by a transformation of our spiritual life;
    • to enlighten our minds and strengthen our lives as children of the light through “goodness, justice, and the truth” in everything (Eph 5:9).


681. How is the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Christ?

By His Passion and death, Christ merited for us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Father sent His Son to redeem the world, so the Son with the Father sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify the world.


682. What are the two basic ways of making moral decisions?

They are the way of Christ and the way independent of Christ. The way of Christ leads to life, the contrary leads to perdition.


683. What are the qualities of every authentic Catholic moral teaching or catechesis?

Catholic moral instruction must:
    • be clear about the joys of following the way of Christ;

    • be equally clear about the demands that following Christ places on us;

    • be a catechesis of the Holy Spirit, which recognizes Him as the inner Master of our life;

    • recognize the absolute necessity of grace, without which we could not reach heaven;

    • teach us the Beatitudes as the only way of reaching eternal happiness;

    • convince us that we are sinners, yet protect us from despair by offering us the merciful forgiveness of God;

    • make the practice of virtue attractive and show us the beauty of living a good moral life;

    • inspire us to follow the saints as models of faith, hope and charity;

    • show us how to live the Ten Commandments by observing the twofold love of God and our neighbor;

    • enable us to see the Church as the indispensable means of exchanging our spiritual gifts with others, and they with us, in the Communion of Saints.


684. What is the first and last point of reference in Catholic moral teaching?

It is always Jesus Christ, our way, our truth, and our life.


685. How is Jesus Christ at the center of authentic Catholic moral teaching?

In three ways:
    • Our faith in Jesus Christ is the intellectual foundation for the whole of Christian morality.

    • Our hope that Christ will fulfill the promises He made enables our wills to want to follow in His ways.

    • Our love of Jesus Christ inspires us to give Him our hearts in return for His selfless love for us.


686. How is Jesus Christ our true head, and we His members?

He belongs to us as the head belongs to the body. All that is His is ours: breath, heart, body and soul, and all His faculties.
All of these we must use as if they belonged to us so that in serving Him we may give Him praise, love, and glory as our God. We belong to Him as a member belongs to the head.
That is why Christ wants us to use all our faculties as if they were His, for the service and glory of His Father.


Section I: The Vocation of Man: Life in the Spirit

There are three fundamental aspects to our life in the Spirit. This life fulfills our vocation as human persons. It is at once a work of divine charity and of human solidarity. And by God’s grace, it leads to our salvation.


Chapter One: The Dignity of the Human Person

The dignity of human beings is rooted in man’s creation in the image and likeness of God. This dignity is fulfilled in his vocation to divine happiness. It belongs to a human being to reach this destiny by the exercise of his free will. By these deliberate actions, the human person is either conformed or not to the good promised by God and attested by the moral conscience. Human beings thus grow and develop themselves from within. Their whole sentient and spiritual life is involved in this growth. With the help of divine grace, they advance in virtue, avoid sin, and, if they have sinned, are like the prodigal son, forgiven by the mercy of their heavenly Father. Thus they attain the perfection of charity.


Article 1: Man, The Image of God

We have all been created in the image and likeness of God. This means that, like God, we are spiritual beings with a mind that can know and judge, and a will that can choose and love.


687. Who has fully revealed what it means to be human?

It was Jesus Christ who fully disclosed the meaning of man and revealed the sublimity of his vocation.


688. What else has Christ done?

He restored humanity, damaged by sin, to its original beauty and ennobled it by God’s grace.


689. Where is God’s image present?

It is present in every man. It shines forth in a communion of persons by its resemblance to the Divine Persons in the Holy Trinity.


690. What do we mean when we say the human person has been willed by God for its own sake?

We mean that, having spiritual and immortal souls, we ourselves are destined from conception for an eternal destiny.


691. Why do we have reason and a free will?

We have reason so that we might know what is good, because it leads to our heavenly destiny, and what is evil, because it leads away from the end for which God created us. We have free will in order to direct ourselves toward the true good, which is to reach heaven.


692. What then is the foundation for our human dignity?

It is the conduct of our moral life.


693. What does it mean to abuse our human freedom?

It means to use our free will to choose what is contrary to the will of God.


694. When did man begin to abuse his freedom?

At the dawn of human history, through seduction by the Evil One. As a result, we retain our basic desire for what is good, but our nature has been wounded by original sin. We are therefore inclined to evil and subject to error.


695. What did Christ do by His Passion and death?

He did three things:
    • He delivered us from the power of Satan.
    • He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit.
    • By His grace, He restored to us what had been damaged by sin.


696. What does faith in Christ enable us to do?

Most fundamentally, it enables us to become children of God. We are thus empowered to follow the example of Christ. In union with Him, we can reach the perfection of charity. As we mature in grace, our moral life grows as eternal life, reaching its summit in heavenly glory.


Article 2: Our Vocation to Happiness

The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. Their proclamation expresses the promises made to the Chose People since Abraham. They fulfilled these promises by directing the People of God not only to happiness here on earth but to the Kingdom of Heaven.


697. Where in the Gospels do we find the text of the Beatitudes revealed by Christ?

In the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke.


698. How does the narrative of the Beatitudes differ between the two Gospels?

In Matthew’s Gospel, there are eight Beatitudes, with the last Beatitude having a further detailed explanation. In Luke’s Gospel, there are four Beatitudes and four woes. Each of the woes corresponds to the Beatitudes and predicts the dire consequence that follows for not living the Beatitude.

699. What are the Beatitudes accepted by the Church’s Tradition?

They are the eight Beatitudes recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew, as follows:
    • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

    • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

    • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

    • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

    • Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

    • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

    • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

    • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt. 5:3-12).


700. How are the Beatitudes an epitome of the New Testament?

They epitomize the New Testament in many ways:
    • They portray the countenance of Jesus Christ and describe His charity.

    • They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

    • They clarify the characteristic actions and attitudes of the Christian life.

    • They are paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations.

    • They proclaim the blessings and rewards acquired, however dimly, by Christ’s disciples here on earth.

    • They are lived out by the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints.


701. How do the Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness?

Our desire for happiness is of divine origin. God has placed it in the heart of man in order to draw us to Him, who alone can satisfy this desire. In the words of St. Augustine “God alone satisfies.” Since Christ is the incarnate God, His Beatitudes are the formula for reaching God and thus becoming truly happy.


702. To whom is Christ’s call to happiness addressed?

To each one of us personally, and to all the People of God who accept Christ’s promise of happiness and live it out by faith.


703. How does the New Testament describe the beatitude to which we are called?

It is called the coming of the kingdom of God, the vision of God, the entrance into the joy of the Lord, the entrance into the rest of the Lord.


704. How does beatitude enable us to share in the divine nature and in eternal life?

God has placed us in this world to know, serve, and love Him and thus enter Paradise. Once entered, we participate in God’s nature, which is perfect happiness for all eternity.


705. Why is beatitude supernatural?

Beatitude is supernatural because only God has a natural right to the vision of Himself. Like divine grace, which leads to beatitude, it is a totally free gift of God.


706. How do moral decisions depend on the promise of beatitude?

Beatitude is the promise of living a Christian moral life. Christian morality purifies our evil inclinations and leads us to seek the love of God above all things. It teaches us that true happiness does not reside in riches or comfort or human glory or power or in any human achievement, no matter how useful, but in God alone, the source of all good and of all love.


707. Where do we find the norms for Christian morality?

In the Ten Commandments elevated by Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and in the preaching of the Apostles. Following these norms and with the help of God’s grace, we gradually bear fruit in the Church for the glory of God.


Article 3: Human Freedom

God created us as rational beings who are to reach our destiny by our own free choice. We are therefore to seek our Creator without coercion and, freely embracing Him, are to attain full and blessed perfection.


708. What is human freedom?

Based on reason and the will, freedom is the power to act or not act to do this or that: in other words, to perform deliberate actions by ourselves.


709. When does freedom reach perfection?

When it is directed to God, our Beatitude.


710. Is our freedom definitely fixed on God as our final end?

Not necessarily. We can choose either good or evil, either to grow in perfection or to fail and commit sin. Freedom identifies truly human acts, which deserve either praise or blame, either merit (reward) or demerit (punishment).


711. What is true freedom?

True freedom is at the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey is an abuse of freedom and leads to the slavery of sin.


712. How responsible are we for the acts we perform?

To the extent that our actions are voluntary.


713. How do we grow in the mastery of our will?

By progress in virtue, the knowledge of what is good, and the asceticism of self-denial.


714. What can diminish or even remove our responsibility or imputability?

Ignorance, inadvertence, violence, fear, habitual dispositions, inordinate affections, and other psychological or social factors can reduce or even remove our culpability.


715. Is every directly willed action imputed to its author?

Yes, as we see already in the Book of Genesis, where God asks Adam and then Cain, “What have you done?”


716. When is an action indirectly voluntary?

When it results from negligence with regard to what should have been known or done.


717. Can the effect of an action be tolerated without being willed?

Yes, when I permit something to happen from an action that I voluntarily perform.


718. What is the imputability for tolerated effects?

The evil effect is not imputable if it is not willed, as either the means or purpose of an action—for example, the death of a rescuer in time of danger. The evil effect is imputable if it is foreseeable and could have been avoided.


719. Does every human person have the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being?

Yes, it is essential to human dignity. Especially in moral and religious matters, it should be protected by civil laws within the limits of public order and the common good.


720. Can man refuse God’s plan of love?

Yes, he has the power to choose what is contrary to the will of God, even though he has no right to do so. He can deceive himself and become a slave of sin. His first alienation from God at the dawn of human history has engendered a multitude of others. History testifies to the evils and enslavements of the heart born of the misuse of freedom.


721. What are some of the threats to human freedom?

Distorted ideas and unjust practices in society can pose grave obstacles to the right use of freedom in the practice of Christian charity.


722. How has Christ set us free?

Christ, by His death, has redeemed us from the slavery of sin.


723. How does God’s grace benefit our freedom?

By our cooperation with divine grace, we become more docile to God’s will, more free to respond to His Spirit, and more ready to collaborate with His work in the Church and in the world.


Article 4: The Morality of Human Acts

We must distinguish between what are called “acts of man” and human acts. Acts of man are the physical or spontaneous actions of a human being that are independent of the free will. The metabolism of the body, circulation of the blood, and instinctive impulses of feeling or emotion are examples of these “acts of man.”

Human acts, on the contrary, are freely chosen as a result of a previous judgment of conscience. They are also called moral acts. Moral acts can be good or bad.


724. What are the basic sources of morality?

They are mainly three: the object chosen, the end or intention for which the choice was made, and the circumstances of the moral action. We may say the sources of morality are the what, the why, and the how of our behavior.


725. When is the object of a human act good?

The object is good if it conforms to the true good. The true good is that which leads to our heavenly destiny.


726. When is the intention of a human act good?

The intention is also good when the reason I choose to do something is because God wants it. My intention is good when it is inspired by the desire to please God. In general, my intention is good when it agrees with the purpose of my existence, which is to serve God and save my soul.


727. Can a good intention justify a bad action?

No, the end or intention does not justify a bad means. Thus, we may not lie or calumniate in order to help someone in need. Conversely, a bad intention corrupts an otherwise good act. For example, it is wrong to give alms simply to impress others with one’s generosity.


728. How are the circumstances secondary to the morality of our human acts?

They do not directly make our actions morally good or bad. But they do increase or diminish the moral goodness or evil of what we freely do. Thus, in general, the more difficult a morally good action is, the more meritorious it is before God. Also the more emotional pressure to do something wrong, the less responsible or culpable a person becomes.


729. When is a human act morally good?

It is morally good when the object, intention, and circumstances are all good.


730. If the object of my choice is morally bad, can anything make that choice morally good?

No, no matter what motives for the action and no matter what the circumstances, if an act is objectively wrong, it is a sin to do it. Why? Because this implies a disorder of the will. Therefore, contraception or fornication, perjury or adultery is always morally wrong.


Article 5: The Morality of Passions

As human beings, we all have passions or feelings. In God’s providence, we are directed to happiness by the deliberate actions we perform. Our passions or feelings are to dispose us to happiness and contribute to its achievement.


What needs mentioning, as noted before, is that we have a fallen human nature. As a result, we do not have a built-in control of our passions.

731. What are the passions?

They are emotions or movements of sensibility which incline to do or not do something in view of what is felt or imagined to be good or evil.


732. How are the passions natural?

They are natural because they connect our sensible (or bodily) life and the life of the spirit (or mind and will).


733. What is the most fundamental passion?

The most fundamental passion is love, aroused by its attraction to the good. The apprehension of evil causes fear, or aversion from a future evil.


734. What does it mean to love?

To love is to will the good for someone. All other affections have their source in this original movement of the heart of man toward the good. We can love only the good. The passions are evil if the love is evil, and good if the love is good. Of course, we can love what is apparently good but in reality evil.


735. How do the passions take on a moral character?

They take on a moral character to the extent that they effectively assist reason and the will. It is part of moral perfection for the passions to be guided by reason enlightened by faith.


736. What determines whether the passions are good or bad?

They are morally good when they lead to a good action; they are bad when they lead to a morally bad action.


737. What is the difference between an orderly (upright) will and an evil will?

It all depends on how the will responds to the passions. An orderly will directs the passions to beatitude and the good. An evil will gives in to disorderly passions and even makes them worse.


738. How does the will contribute to the formation of virtues or vices?

It depends on how the will deals with the passions. If the will develops the good passions, it contributes to the formation of virtues. But if the will fosters the disorderly passions, it contributes to the formation of vices.


739. Did Christ have any passions?

He did not have any disorderly passions or sinful inclinations, but He did have the natural emotions and movements of sensibility that enabled Him to be human like us in everything except sin.


740. When did Christ especially reveal His human feelings?

It was especially during His agony, when His human feelings could reach their fulfillment in the charity and happiness of God.


741. Does moral perfection consist only in the will choosing the good?

No, moral perfection is more than merely willing or choosing the good. It also involves the fulfillment of our bodily or sensible desires. This is dramatically illustrated in the statement of the psalmist who says, “My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Ps 84:2).


Article 6: The Moral Conscience

Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law which he did not make for himself, but which he is bound to obey. This voice is always calling him to love, to do good, and to avoid evil. As needed, it echoes in the depths of his heart. It is a law inscribed by God in the heart of man. Conscience is the most intimate and most secret core of a human being, where he is alone with God and where God’s voice can be heard within.


742. What is the function of the moral conscience?

It has two main functions: to opportunely enjoin a person to do good and avoid evil; and to make specific choices, approving those which are good and rejecting those which are bad.


743. What is the moral conscience?

It is a judgment of reason by which a human person recognizes the moral quality of a specific act that he faces, is in the process of doing, or has already done.


744. Must the conscience always be followed?

Yes, man is always obliged to follow his conscience in what he knows to be right and just.


745. How is the conscience related to the divine law?

By the judgment of conscience, man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law. In the words of Cardinal Newman, “Conscience is the first of all the vicars of Christ.”


746. How are we to develop our moral conscience?

We must take time out regularly for reflection and self-awareness. In the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Turn within yourself and in everything you do, see God as your witness.”


747. What is an upright conscience?

An upright conscience is one that has these qualities:
    • It knows the sound principles of morality.

    • It can apply these principles in the practical circumstances of life.

    • It makes good decisions about specific actions already done or to be done.


748. How does our conscience stand as a pledge of mercy and hope?

When we have sinned, our conscience bears witness to what we have done wrong. At the same time, it reminds us that God is merciful and that we should repent and grow in virtue with the help of His grace.


749. Is everyone free to follow his conscience?

Yes. In fact, no one is to be forced to act against conscience, nor impeded from acting according to conscience, especially in religious matters.


750. What is formation of conscience?

Formation of conscience is educating the conscience in keeping with the true good as willed by the wisdom of the Creator. It should begin from the earliest years of infancy, and it is a lifelong task.


751. How is the conscience to be educated?

Through study of the Word of God, prayer, practice, examination of conscience, the witness or advice of others, and guidance by the Church’s authoritative teaching.


752. What are some basic rules for choosing according to one’s conscience?

    • Evil may never be done to produce a good result.

    • The Golden Rule, “In everything you want others to do to you, do the same to them” (Mt 7:12).

    • Charity always works with respect for the neighbor and his conscience.


753. Are we always to obey the certain judgment of conscience?

Our judgment of conscience is certain when we have no positive doubt that something should be done or not done. A certain (not doubtful) conscience must always be followed. Otherwise, we would be condemning ourselves.


754. Can the conscience be certain and yet incorrect?

Yes, through ignorance.


755. Are we obliged to have a correct conscience?

Yes. Failure to enlighten the conscience through seeking the true and good as well as habits of sin blind the conscience. In these cases a person is guilty of the evil committed through what is called vincible or culpable ignorance.


756. What are some causes of a blinded conscience?

There are many. Among others there are:
    • ignorance of Christ and His Gospel;
    • the bad example given by others;
    • slavery of the passions;
    • the pretense of a misunderstood autonomy of conscience;
    • refusal to accept the Church’s authority and teaching;
    • lack of moral conversion;
    • lack of charity toward God and one’s neighbor.


757. Does invincible ignorance excuse a person of moral responsibility?

We must distinguish. If the ignorance is truly invincible, that is, not culpable, the person does not sin in acting on a certain but erroneous conscience. However, as stated before, the erroneous conscience should be corrected. Nevertheless, the evil consequences of acting on an erroneous conscience remain evil. This emphasizes the duty we have to make sure our moral conscience is correct.


758. Does the conscience have to be enlightened by the true faith?

Yes, for two reasons:
    • because our natural reason has been darkened by sin—original, person, and social sin;

    • because Christ came into the world to reveal mysteries that are beyond the comprehension of reason. These mysteries are to be believed and put into practice. Hence, true faith is needed to enlighten our natural conscience.


Article 7: The Virtues

Virtue, in general, is a firm and habitual disposition to do good. It allows a person not only to perform good actions but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his bodily and spiritual powers. He pursues and chooses this good in the concrete actions of daily life.


759. What are the virtues?

Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, and habitual dispositions of the intellect and will that regulate our actions, direct our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They confer the facility, self-control, and joy needed to lead a good moral life.


760. What are the four cardinal virtues?

They are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. All other human virtues are expressions of these four.


761. What is prudence?

Prudence disposes our practical reason to recognize our true good in every circumstance of life and to choose the correct means of achieving it. Prudence is called the guide or pilot of the virtues because it guides them by directing them to choose the proper means for achieving a predetermined good end.


762. What is justice?

Justice is the virtue that guides the human will to give to God and to others what is their due.


763. What is justice toward God?

Justice toward God is the virtue of religion. God has a right to be known and obeyed. He has a right to be spoken to and listened to. God has a right to deal with us as He wills. In all these cases, our justice toward God implies our submission to God, His laws, and His providence in our lives. Our humble response to His divine rights as His creatures is the practice of religion.


764. What is our justice toward others?

Justice toward others recognizes their rights as human beings. Always in view of the common good, a just person considers the good of a community and how his own interests are to be subordinated to the welfare of others.


765. What is fortitude?

Fortitude is the virtue that regulates our fears. It assures stability and constancy in doing what is good even in the face of difficulties. The virtue of fortitude enables us to resist fear, even the fear of death, and to suffer everything in the defense of our practice of the faith. We are sustained by the promise of Our Lord, who told us, “In the world you will face persecution. But take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).


766. What is temperance?

Temperance moderates our desires. It moderates the attraction of pleasure—bodily, emotional, and spiritual. In the words of St. Paul, we are “to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly” (Titus 2:12). Always this control of our appetites is to be guided by right reason but illumined by the light of faith, in which Christ is our model of temperance. We surrender not only pleasures that are sinful but even legitimate pleasures out of love for God and in imitation of His Son, Jesus Christ.


767. What is the relation of grace to the practice of human virtues?

Grace is indispensable. With regard to the human virtues:
    • grace elevates the human virtues from the natural to the supernatural plane;

    • grace forges the virtues and gives us a facility or ease in their practice;

    • grace enables us to persevere in the practice of virtue;

    • grace prompts us to pray, receive the sacraments, and respond to God’s call to an ever greater practice of the human virtues.


768. What are the theological virtues?

The theological virtues refer directly to God (Theos) by enabling Christians to live in relation to the Holy Trinity. They are the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. They have God as their origin, motive, and object. They give life to the moral virtues.


769. What is faith?

Faith is the virtue by which we assent with the intellect to everything that God has revealed, not because we understand but because of the authority of God revealing, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.


770. What is our duty toward the virtue of faith?

As followers of Christ, we have a series of responsibilities:
    • We are to preserve the faith.

    • We are to live the faith.

    • We are to profess the faith.

    • We are to courageously bear witness to the faith.

    • We are to spread the faith.

    • We are to be ready to confess Christ before others and follow Him along the way of the Cross.

    • We are to be ready to suffer persecution for the faith.

    • We are to be willing to die for the faith.


771. What is the virtue of hope?

Hope is the virtue by which we desire our happiness and the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the virtue by which we place our trust in Christ’s promises. It is the virtue that enables us to rely not on our own powers but on the grace of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.


772. How does hope protect us?

It protects us from discouragement, sustains us in our abandonment by creatures, and rejoices our heart in anticipation of the heavenly glory that awaits us. It preserves us from selfishness.


773. What is the foundation of our hope?

It is nothing less than our faith in the merits and Passion of Jesus Christ.


774. Are we to hope to reach eternal glory?

Emphatically. We are to trust confidently in the mercy and love of God, that He will bring us to the heavenly destiny to which He has called us and for which He endured His Passion and death on Calvary.


775. What is charity?

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things and everyone else out of love for God.


776. What is Christ’s new commandment of love?

He told us, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).


777. Is love the norm for keeping the commandments of Christ?

Yes. In His own words, “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (Jn 15:9-10)


778. What are the qualities of true Christian charity?

They are spelled out in the famous first letter of St. Paul, in which he says, “Charity is patient, charity is kind, charity is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude, it does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but it rejoices in the truth. Charity believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).


779. What is Christian charity?

It is the practice of all the virtues animated by love. It is more than natural love because it is a supernatural virtue that enables a person to love beyond the powers of human nature. It purifies our human ability to love and raises it to the superhuman perfection of divine love.


780. How is Christian charity the bond of unity?

In the words of St. Paul, it “binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14). Without charity there could be no Christianity. And Christianity is only as vital and vibrant as the embers of Christ’s Mystical Body are united in the practice of selfless charity.


781. What are the fruits of Christian charity?

They are joy, peace, and mercy. Charity begets fraternal correction, friendship, and communion. Charity, says St. Augustine, is the fulfillment and goal of all our good works. Charity is not only the means but the goal of all our efforts. And once we have reached it, we have entered our eternal repose.


782. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

They are the supernatural impulses by which the Holy Spirit urges us to the practice of the Christian virtues. They correspond to the instincts of our human nature. There are four of these supernatural instincts for the mind, namely, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and counsel. There are three for the will, namely, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.


783. How do the gifts and fruits differ from their natural counterparts?

They differ in their cause and effect. Their cause is the supernatural power of grace coming from the indwelling Holy Spirit. Their effect is to assist Christian believers to serve God in spite of a natural reluctance to embrace the Cross in the following of Christ.


784. What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

They are the supernatural enjoyment (Latin frui, “to enjoy”) that the Holy Spirit gives in the practice of the virtues. As with the gifts, the fruits correspond to the satisfaction we derive from putting our natural powers of body and soul into practice.


Article 8: Sin

If there is one focus in the New Testament, it is that God became man to redeem us from sin.

The very name “Jesus” means “Savior.” As the angel directed St. Joseph regarding the child that Mary had conceived, “You are to name Him Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).

Corresponding to this focus on Christ as man’s Redeemer is the necessity on our part to repent and be sorry for having sinned.

St. Augustine sees two great gifts that Christ brought to the world. His Spirit of truth enables us to recognize that we have sinned and at the same time to believe in the certainty of our redemption.


785. What is sin?

Sin is a deliberate offense against a law of God. It is the selfish indulgence of our own will against the known will of God. In the words of St. Augustine, sin may be defined as “a word, and act, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”


786. What are the causes of sin?

The basic cause of sin is the love of oneself even to the rejection of God. Pride, therefore, or proud self-exaltation is at the root of sin.


787. What are the effects of sin?

Sin turns the heart of the sinner away from the love of God. It wounds human nature and injures the solidarity of the human race.


788. How is Christ’s Passion related to sin?

In two ways. During His Passion, sin reached a peak of intensity, seen in the hatred and violence of His enemies against the incarnate Son of God. By His Passion, Christ opened for us the inexhaustible treasure of divine mercy.


789. What are the different kinds of sin?

Sins are variously classified. The most fundamental classification is according to the commandments of God. In Sacred Scripture, St. Paul identifies the works of the flesh in contrast with those of the Spirit. “The works of the flesh,” he says, “are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, drunkenness, carousing. Those who commit these sins,” he concludes, “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).


790. How do sins differ according to gravity?

They differ according to whether the sinner loses his state of sanctifying grace or merely weakens his friendship with God. They are, therefore, either mortal or venial.


791. What is mortal sin?

It is a serious disobedience of a law of God. It destroys the virtue of charity in a man’s heart and turns him away from God.


792. What is venial sin?

Venial sin allows the virtue of charity to remain, but it injures and wounds the supernatural life of the soul.


793. What are the conditions for a mortal sin?

They are three:
    • The matter or action itself must be gravely offensive to God.

    • The person knows that it is gravely forbidden by God.

    • The person deliberately consents to the sinful action.


794. How are mortal sins forgiven?

The person must repent by conversion of heart, which is normally obtained through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On God’s side, it requires a new initiative of divine mercy.


795. What is the grave matter required for a mortal sin?

It is determined by the Ten Commandments, as illustrated in Christ’s response to the rich young man: “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother” (Mk 10:19). These examples reflect different degrees of gravity. It is up to the Church’s Magisterium to specify what sinful actions are mortal.


796. What are the full knowledge and consent required for a mortal sin?

A person should be mentally aware that a given action is seriously forbidden by God and must make a personal choice to commit what is known to be a serious sin.


797. Can ignorance reduce or even remove the responsibility for a grave sin?

Yes, provided the ignorance is not voluntary. Moreover, emotions, passions, external pressures, or pathological conditions can reduce the voluntary and free character of grave sins. The worst sins are those of malice and the deliberate choice of evil.


798. What are the effects of mortal sin?

As a radical choice of human freedom, mortal sin deprives a person of the state of grace. Unless repented and forgiven by God, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell. Of course, we must always leave the final judgment of grave sinners to the justice and mercy of God.


799. When are venial sins committed?

When the matter is gravely sinful, but there is not full awareness or consent. Also when the action committed is less serious, venial sins are committed.


800. What are the effects of venial sins?

They weaken the virtue of charity, lead to disorderly love for creatures, interfere with the soul’s progress in moral goodness, and merit temporal punishment. Persistent venial sins dispose a person to sin mortally.


801. What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

It is the hardening of heart in which a sinner refuses to repent and accept God’s mercy. It can lead to final impenitence and eternal damnation.


802. How does sin reproduce itself?

Sin creates an attraction to sin. Every sinful act naturally tends to repeat itself. The repetition of sin becomes a vice, or a habit of sin.


803. What are the capital sins?

They are pride, lust, anger, covetousness, envy, sloth, and gluttony. They are the root cause of all other sins.


804. What are the “sins that cry to heaven”?

They are specially grievous and are commonly identified as the sin of the Sodomites; the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt; the cry of the stranger, the widow, and orphan; and injustice in wages.


805. How do we cooperate in the sins of others?

We cooperate in other persons’ sins by:
    • direct and voluntary participation;
    • command, counsel, praise, and approval;
    • not revealing or stopping sins when we are bound to do so;
    • protecting those who do evil.


806. What are social sins?

They are the sinful structures in society created by the multiplication and organization of personal sins.


Chapter Two: The Human Community

The vocation of humanity is to manifest the image of God and to be transformed to the image of the only Son of the Father. This vocation assumes a personal form, since each individual is called to enter into divine beatitude. But this is also a vocation for the entire human community.


Article 1: The Person and Society

All men are called to the same end, God Himself. Indeed, there is a certain resemblance between the union of the Divine Persons in the Trinity and the fraternity of truth and love that men should establish among themselves. Love of one’s neighbor is inseparable from love for God.


807. What is a society?

A society is an association of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that surpasses each of its members. It is natural for human persons to live in a society.


808. What is the principal subject and end of all social institutions?

It is and should be the human person.


809. What societies are necessary to human nature?

They are the family and the state.


810. What is socialization?

It is the formation of voluntary associations which foster economic, cultural, political, and other such goals in a society.


811. What are the dangers of socialization?

Socialization becomes dangerous when the state intervenes to threaten personal liberty and initiative. According to the Church’s teaching of subsidiarity, a society of a higher order should assist but not intervene in the internal life of a society of a lower order.


812. How is God’s government of the world the model for governing human communities?

God respects human freedom. So in human societies, those in authority should act as ministers of divine providence.


813. How does subsidiarity oppose all forms of collectivism?

It does so by setting limits to state intervention, harmonizing relations between individuals and societies, and seeking to establish a true international order.


814. What is the primary meaning of life in society?

Life in society should be seen primarily a reality of the spiritual order. In other words, all other functions are to be subordinated to interior and spiritual values.


815. What is the inversion of means and ends in society?

This is to confer ultimate value on what is only a means. It is also to use persons as merely a means for attaining the purpose of a society. Such inversion makes Christian obedience to God’s laws difficult or even impossible.


816. What must be done to accomplish truly beneficial changes in society?

There must be permanent interior conversion. This means cleansing society of such institutions and conditions as give rise to sin and reforming them according to the norms of justice and the common good.


817. Is divine grace necessary for this reformation?

Yes, because only God’s grace enables human beings to practice supernatural charity. Thus, the love for God and neighbor, inspired by Christ’s teaching, is necessary for finding the narrow path between the cowardice that gives into the evil and the violence that believes it is fighting the evil but only aggravates it.


Article 2: Paricipation in the Social Life

It is impossible to speak about participation in the life of a society without recognizing the need for authority in that society.

As understood by the Church, authority in a society is the quality by which persons or institutions provide the laws and directives and expect obedience from the people in that society.


818. What is the basis for authority in a human community?

It is human nature. In the state, this authority is necessary to preserve unity and to provide for the common good.


819. From whom does civil authority come?

It comes from God to ensure moral order in civil society.


820. Are civil authorities to be obeyed?

Yes, everyone in a civil society is to obey those in authority and treat them with the honor, respect, and gratitude they deserve.


821. Who determines the form of government?

The form of government and the appointment of its rulers depend on the free will of its citizens. However, to be legitimate, the form of government may not be contrary to the natural law, the public order, or the fundamental rights of the people.


822. What is the basis for moral legitimacy of civil authority?

It is the eternal law of God and therefore does not derive from itself. Human laws, therefore, are true laws only if they correspond to right reason, based on divine law. Otherwise, they are wicked laws and are rather a form of violence.


823. When is authority exercised legitimately?

When it seeks the common good and uses morally licit means to attain this good. Otherwise, the authority ceases to be legitimate and degenerates into oppression.


824. What is balance of power in government?

It is the equilibrium of powers in a government to ensure the sovereignty of the law and prevent domination by the arbitrary will of individuals.


825. What is the common good?

The common good is the sum total of social conditions that enable groups and individuals within the group to achieve perfection more readily and completely by belonging to it.


826. What are the essentials of the common good?

As explained by the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI, the common good must:
    • respect each person as such. This means that each person is enabled to follow the correct norms of his conscience, his private life is protected, and his just freedom, especially religious freedom, can be exercised.

    • provide for the social well-being and development of the group itself. The means for leading a truly human life are made available in food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, and the right to found a family.

    • ensure peace, which means the stability and security of a just order. This includes the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.


827. What is the universal common good?

This is the development of international organizations to promote the unity of the human family, provide for people’s needs, and alleviate their distress in various places throughout the world.


828. How is the common good related to the progress of persons?

The common good should be oriented to the progress of persons and not the reverse. It must be based on truth built on justice and animated by love.


829. What responsibility do we have to participate in public life?

We have a serious responsibility to promote the common good according to our ability and position. This first means to fulfill the duties a person has freely assumed, such as raising a family. It also means engaging in conscientious work. It finally means laboring for the continued conversion of the members of a society, especially through sound education in moral values.


Article 3: Social Justice

Society assures social justice to its people by allowing associations and their members to obtain what is due to them, according to their nature and vocation. Social justice is associated with the common good and the exercise of authority.


830. Why does society exist?

The ultimate purpose of society is for the good of the person to which it has been ordained.


831. What is respect for the human person?

It is respect for his rights as a creature. Without such respect, authority can obtain obedience from its subjects only by force or violence.


832. What is the basis for respect of the human person?

It is seeing one’s neighbor as another self. This includes respect for his existence and for the means necessary to preserve his human dignity.


833. When are we especially to serve the needs of others?

When people are in any way disadvantaged. This follows from Christ’s teaching, “As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).


834. Do we have the same duty toward those who think or act differently from us?

Yes, in fact, Christ commands us to love even our enemies. We may not hate a person, even when we hate the evil that he does.


835. How are all human beings equal?

They are equal because each has been created by God, possesses an immortal soul, has been redeemed by Christ, and is destined for the same divine beatitude. All, therefore, enjoy an equal dignity.


836. What follows from our equal dignity?

As a result, every discrimination affecting a person’s basic human rights is contrary to the plan of God.


837. Why are human beings so different?

These differences are willed by God to enable people to practice love for one another. Those who have can share with those who lack.


838. Are there also unjust inequalities?

Yes, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, “The excessive economic and social inequalities. . . are a scandal. . . at variance with social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, and, not least, civil and international peace” (Gaudium et spes, 29,3).


839. What is human solidarity?

Human solidarity is the divinely willed unity and interdependence of the human race. As a law of human and Christian fellowship, it is sealed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for the redemption of a sinful humanity.


840. How is solidarity first of all manifested?

By the distribution of goods and remuneration for labor.


841. How can socioeconomic problems be solved?

Only by the help of all forms of solidarity.


842. Does the virtue of solidarity go beyond material goods?

Yes. While promoting the faith, the Church never failed to promote the development of temporal goods. She has pioneered in advancing farmers, liberating slaves, healing the sick, and creating social conditions worthy of Christian and human dignity. Over the centuries, she has proved the truth of Christ’s teaching, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things will be given you as well” (Mt 6:33).


Chapter Three: Divine Salvation: Law and Grace

Called to beatitude but wounded by sin, the human race is in need of salvation. Divine help comes in Christ by means of the law that guides us and the grace that sustains us.


Article 1: The Moral Law

The moral law is the work of divine wisdom. It is at once a paternal instruction and a divine pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways and rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude.


843. What is law?

Law is a rule of conduct decreed by the competent authority in view of the common good.


844. What does the moral law presuppose?

It presupposes the rational order established among creatures for their good and in view of their destiny by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator.


845. Where does all law find its truth?

All law finds its first and last truth in the eternal law.


846. What are the expressions of the moral law?

They are varied and yet all interrelated. Thus, there are:
    • the eternal law, the source in God of all laws;

    • the natural law;

    • the revealed law, which includes the Old Law and the New Law of the Gospel;

    • the civil and ecclesiastical laws.


847. Where does the moral law find its fullness and unity?

In the person of Jesus Christ. He is at once the end or purpose of the law and the way of perfection. He alone teaches and confers the justice of God.


848. What is the natural law?

It is the law written in the soul of all men because our human reason orders us to do good and forbids sin. Its binding power comes from a higher Reason, which we are to obey.


849. Where do we find the principle commandments of the natural law?

We find them in the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, given to Moses and elevated by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount.


850. What are some notable features of the natural law?

The natural law is universal; its authority extends to all human beings. Its applications vary, but its basic principles unify the whole human race. It is unchangeable over the centuries of history, and even when denied or rejected, its basic principles cannot be destroyed.


851. What are the benefits of the natural law?

The natural law provides a solid foundation for guiding the human community in moral living. It gives the necessary grounds for civil laws and wise judicial decisions.


852. Are the precepts of the natural law perceived clearly and immediately by everyone?

No, because of the darkening of man’s intellect by sin. That is why God provided revelation and grace, so that the basic truths of religion and morality would “be known by everyone, with facility, with firm certitude, and with no admixture of error” (First Vatican Council, Dei Filius, 2).


853. What is the first stage of the revealed law?

It is the Old Law summed up in the Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai.


854. How is the Old Law imperfect?

It is imperfect because already before the coming of Christ it had to be completed by the prophetic and wisdom revelation of the Old Testament. But it is mainly imperfect because it had to be fulfilled by the teaching and life of Jesus Christ.


855. How is the Law of Moses a preparation for the Gospel?

It foretells the work of redemption of the Savior, and provides the New Testament with images, types, and symbols for expressing the life of the Spirit.


856. What is the New Law of the Gospel?

The New Law of the Gospel is the perfection here below of the natural and revealed divine law. Moreover:
    • It is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to believers by their faith in Christ.

    • It surpasses the Old Law, as seen in the Beatitudes, which direct God’s promises beyond this world to the kingdom of Heaven.

    • In the Sermon on the Mount, it does not add new external precepts but reforms our actions in the heart.

    • It directs our acts of religion to the Father, who sees in secret. Its prayer is the Our Father.

    • It is summed up in Christ’s teaching to do everything to others as we would have them do to us.

    • It is expressed in Christ’s new commandment that we should love one another as He has loved us.


857. How is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount amplified?

By the moral catechesis of the apostolic teaching, for example, the letters of St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, and Ephesians. This catechesis shows that we are to treat cases of conscience in the light of our relation to Christ and the Church.


858. Why is the New Law called the law of love, grace, and freedom?

    • It is called the law of love because it is animated by the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than by fear.

    • It is called the law of grace because it confers the supernatural power of grace to observe the New Law by means of faith and the sacraments.

    • It is called the law of freedom because it frees us from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law; it inclines us to act spontaneously under the impulse of charity; and it leads us from the state of servants to that of Christ’s friends.


859. What are the evangelical counsels?

They are invitations extended by Christ to His followers not only to avoid sin, or whatever is incompatible with love, but to choose ways that are more direct and means that are more effective expressions of love. The counsels seek to remove whatever would impede the development of charity.


860. Are the followers of Christ to practice the counsels?

Yes, but according to each person’s grace from God and vocation in life. In the words of St. Francis de Sales, God wants us to observe “only those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths, as love requires” (Love, 8,6).


Article 2: Grace and Justification

The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us. We are thus cleansed from our sins. Through faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism, we receive a share in the very justice or holiness of God. We become members of His Body, which is the Church.


861. What are the effects of justification?

Most fundamentally, justification not only frees us from sin but sanctifies us in the depths of our being. Moreover:
    • Justification pours into our souls the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

    • Justification conforms us to the justice of God and enables us to attain eternal life.

    • Justification establishes cooperation between the grace of God and the freedom of man. We are thus able to merit before God.


862. What is divine grace?

Divine grace is the favor or undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call of becoming children of God, adopted sons, sharers in the divine nature and of eternal life. Grace is what we need beyond what we have by nature to reach our heavenly destiny.


863. How is our vocation to eternal life supernatural?

It is supernatural because it is beyond the powers of any created nature either to know or to reach. God alone had to reveal it, and His grace alone makes it possible to attain.


864. How does sanctifying grace differ from actual grace?

Both are totally free gifts of God enabling us to reach the beatific vision of God. Sanctifying grace is the habitual, stable disposition of soul that makes us children of God and heirs of heaven. Actual graces are the transient illuminations of mind and inspiration of will that enable us to obtain, retain, or grow in sanctifying grace.


865. Do we need grace to accept grace?

Yes, God must provide the light for the mind and strength for the will even to first accept His grace. He must also continue giving us His grace in order that we might respond to the graces we receive. But we must cooperate with our free will. In the words of St. Augustine, “Indeed, we also work, but we only collaborate with God who does the work” (St. Augustine, On Nature and Grace, 31).


866. How does God’s free initiative require our free response to grace?

God made us in His own image and likeness. Like Him, we have a mind and a free will. He wants to bring us to eternal life as intelligent and free human beings. This means that His freedom in giving us His grace must be met by our intelligent freedom in responding to His grace. His gratuitous love for us must be met by our generous love in return.


867. Are all graces directed only to our own sanctification?

No, there are also special graces that St. Paul calls charisms. These are both ordinary and extraordinary. But they are given by the Holy Spirit as apostolic graces, directed to the common good of the church. They are at the service of the charity that builds up the Church.


868. What are the graces of state?

They are graces given for exercising responsibilities in the Christian life and ministries within the Church.


869. How can we know that grace is active in our lives?

We can know this by the spiritual good that we experience in our lives. As Christ tells us, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Mt 7:20).


870. What is merit?

Merit is the reward received from God for voluntarily cooperating with His grace.


871. To whom should merit be attributed?

It should first be attributed to God, without whom we would not even exist or do any good work. Only then should merit be attributed to the faithful who use their free will to freely cooperate with the free gift of God’s grace.


872. What can we merit?

In general, we can merit God’s grace in this life and heavenly glory in the life to come. The grace we merit can be a growth in God’s life, an increase of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and even temporal blessings like health and friendship. The eternal glory we merit is the “right’ to enter heaven and an increase in celestial happiness according to our generosity in cooperating with God’s grace here on earth.


873. What is holiness?

Holiness or sanctity is fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity.


874. Are all Christians called to sanctity?

Yes, all the faithful of whatever rank or state of life. In the words of Christ, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).


875. What is the mystical union with Christ?

It is an intimate union with Christ that is the fruit of progress in the spiritual life. It is called mystical because it means a sharing in the mystery of Christ and through Him in the mystery of the Trinity. Moreover, it is attained through the sacred mysteries or sacraments of the Church.


876. Are extraordinary experiences or phenomena essential to a mystical union with Christ?

No, they are special graces that are granted to some people in order to reveal God’s grace to all.


877. What is necessary to attain Christian perfection or sanctity?

The road to perfection is the way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renouncement and spiritual conflict.


878. Are we to be confident of our salvation?

Yes, as children of the Church, we should justly hope for the grace of final perseverance and of God’s reward for the good works we have done with His grace in union with Jesus.


Article 3: The Church, Mother and Teacher

It is in the Church that the Christian fulfills his vocation. It is from the Church that he receives the Word of God, which contains the teachings of the law of Christ. From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments to sustain him on the way. From the Church he learns the example of holiness, and recognizes its source and model in the most holy Virgin Mary.


The moral life is spiritual worship. Moreover, like the whole of the Christian life, the moral life finds its source and summit in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.


879. Does the Church have the right to teach moral matters?

Yes, she has received from Christ the solemn commandment to preach the truth of salvation. She therefore has the duty always to proclaim the principles of morality, even in the social order, and to pass judgment on any human issue as required by the basic personal rights and the salvation of souls.


880. How is the Church’s Magisterium ordinarily exercised in moral matters?

Through catechesis and preaching, with the help of theologians and spiritual authors.


881. What is the ordinary and universal Magisterium?

It is the teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him, which is intended for all the faithful.


882. Is this ordinary and universal Magisterium infallible in moral matters?

Yes, based on divine revelation, it includes all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of salvation could not be safeguarded, explained, or observed.


883. Does the Church’s Magisterium extend to specific precepts of the moral law?

Yes, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation.


884. Are the faithful to be instructed in their moral duties?

Yes, because these duties are the law of God, which Christ entrusted to the Church. Even when the Church’s moral teachings concern disciplinary matters, the faithful are to accept them from the legitimate authority of the Church.


885. Are the faithful to contribute to the Church’s understanding of the moral law?

Yes, the Holy Spirit can use the most humble of the faithful to enlighten even the learned and those in the highest dignity.


886. Can there be any real conflict in moral matters between reason or a person’s conscience and the moral law or the Church’s teaching authority?

No, because the same Spirit of God who guides the moral law and the Church’s Magisterium also enlightens all persons of good will and the faithful of the Catholic Church.


887. What is a true filial spirit toward the Church?

It is the spirit received at Baptism that inspires us to see the Church as our loving mother. We trust her in teaching us the Word of God, forgiving our sins, and feeding our souls with the Eucharist of the Lord.


888. What are the precepts of the Church?

They are the indispensable minimum that the faithful are expected to obey as members of the Church. Six precepts are universally binding:
    • Participate at Mass on Sundays and feast days.

    • Receive the Sacrament of Confession at least once a year.

    • Receive Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.

    • Keep holy the feast days of obligation.

    • Observe the prescribed days of fast and abstinence.

    • Support the Church in her material needs according to one’s ability.


889. How is a moral life a missionary witness to the Church?

Fidelity in living out their faith is a basic witness to the Gospel of all the baptized. The believer’s holiness of life, more than anything else, contributes to the increase, growth, and development of the Church founded by Christ.


Section II: The Ten Commandments

Jesus did not eliminate the Ten Commandments; he elevated them. This is especially clear in the Gospel of St. Matthew, written for the converts from Judaism.

In this Gospel, the Savior does several things:

  • He shows that following Him means obeying the commandments, since He is the Master of the law.

  • He shows how the evangelical counsels are inseparable from the commandments.

  • He restates the Ten Commandments in such a way as to show that the Spirit elevated the letter of the law beyond anything preached by the Scribes and Pharisees or taught by the Gentiles.

  • He explains how the Decalogue is really the twofold commandment of love for God and our neighbor.



890. What does the word “Decalogue” mean?

It means “Ten Words,” referring to the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, who wrote them down. They are found in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.


891. How are the Ten Commandments an exodus?

They are an exodus, or deliverance, because they are the way to be delivered from sin.


892. How do the Ten Commandments summarize and proclaim the law of God?

They contain the basic covenant between God and His people. That is why they were to be kept in the Ark of the Covenant.


893. How are the Ten Commands a theophany, or self-revelation, of God?

Because they manifest the will of God to His people.


894. How does the text of the Decalogue differ in Exodus and Deuteronomy?

In Deuteronomy, the Decalogue brings out the covenant or agreement by which the Chosen People bind themselves to obey whatever the Lord has previously commanded them.


895. How are the Ten Commandments related to original sin?

Original sin enslaved the human race to this world. The Ten Commandments liberate mankind from this punishment for sin. This is symbolized in the deliverance of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt.


896. How do the Ten Commandments express our worship of God?

By telling us how God wants us to cooperate with His plan in human history.


897. How does the Decalogue express God’s covenant with each human being?

The Ten Commandments are preceded by the singular pronoun “I,” which indicates that God is speaking personally. Each commandment is expressed in the singular pronoun “you” to indicate that He is addressing each of us personally.


898. What has been the Church’s tradition regarding the Decalogue?

From the beginning, the Church has given the Ten Commandments a preponderant place in her catechetical instruction before Baptism and of the baptized faithful.


899. What is the division of the Decalogue in the present catechism?

It is the division of St. Augustine and has been traditional in the Catholic Church ever since.


900. What do the Ten Commandments express?

They express our duties to love God in the first three commandments, and to love our neighbor in the last seven.


901. What is our duty to observe the Ten Commandments?

The Council of Trent teaches that all Christians are obliged to observe the Ten Commandments. The Second Vatican Council confirms this obligation by reminding the bishops, as successors of the Apostles, that their mission from Christ is “to preach the Gospel so that all may be saved through faith, Baptism, and the observance of the commandments’ (Lumen Gentium, 24).


902. What is the unity of the Decalogue?

The commandments are so united that each precept depends on the others. Most important, the first three commandments on the love of God determine the last seven on loving our neighbor.


903. How is the Decalogue related to the natural law?

We may say the Decalogue is the divine revelation of the natural law. The revelation was needed because human reason has been darkened by sin.


904. Is the Decalogue irreversible?

Yes, it applies to all human beings, everywhere, at all times, and no one can be dispensed from obeying it.


905. Are all the commandments equally binding?

No, as explained before, the gravity of a sin depends on the seriousness of what is done, the intention, and the circumstances.


906. Can we keep the commandments without divine grace?

No, as Christ tells us, “Without me you can do nothing” on the way to heaven. We therefore need the grace that only He can give.


907. What are the Ten Commandments as found in the Church’s tradition?

They are:
    • I am the lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.

    • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

    • Observe the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.

    • Honor your father and mother as the lord your God commanded you.

    • You shall not kill.

    • You shall not commit adultery.

    • You shall not steal.

    • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

    • You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbor.

Chapter One: “You Shall Love The Lord Your God With All Your Heart”

Jesus synthesized man’s duties toward God in the sentence. “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind” (Mt 22:37).

God has first loved us. We may call this the first of God’s “ten words” to us. The commandments then spell out how man is to give his love to God in return.


Article 1: The First Commandment

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down before them or worship them” (Ex 20:2-5).

908. What is distinctive about the First Commandment?

It professes absolute monotheism. There is and can be only one true God.


909. To whom did God first reveal himself?

To the people of Israel.


910. What virtues does the First Commandment embrace?

It embraces the virtues of faith or believing in God; hope or trusting in God, and charity or loving God.


911. How is our moral life based on our faith in God?

Faith in God reveals His love for us. Our moral responsibility is to respond to God’s love by keeping His commandments.


912. What are the principal sins against faith?

They are voluntary doubt, unbelief, heresy, and apostasy. Voluntary doubt is deliberately suspending judgment about the certitude of any truth revealed by God. To be noted is that difficulties about the faith are not positive doubts.
Unbelief is either apathy toward revealed truth or the refusal to assent.
Heresy is obstinate denial after Baptism to believe a truth that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, or an obstinate doubt regarding such a truth.
Apostasy is the total rejection of the Christian faith. Schism is the refusal of submission to the Sovereign Pontiff or communion with the members of the Church who are subject to him.


913. What is hope?

Hope is the confident expectation of God’s grace in this life and the beatific vision of God in eternity. It is also the fear of offending God’s love and provoking His punishment.


914. What are the two principal sins against hope?

They are despair and presumption.
    • Despair is giving up hope in God for one’s salvation, for the means of reaching heaven, and for pardon of our sins.

    • Presumption is either assuming that I can reach heaven without divine grace, or assuming that God will forgive me without repentance for my sins, or give me eternal glory without my voluntary merit with His grace.


915. What is charity?

Charity is the divine commandment that obliges us to love God above all things and to love creatures for Him and because of Him.


916. What are the sins against the love of God?

    • Indifference either ignores or refuses to pay attention to God’s love.

    • Ingratitude refuses either to recognize God’s love or to render love to Him in return.

    • Tepidity is either hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love.

    • Spiritual sloth goes so far as to reject the joy that comes from God.

    • Hatred of God comes from pride, denies His goodness, and presumes to curse Him because He forbids sins and inflicts punishment.


917. What is the virtue of religion?

It is the virtue that disposes us to render to God what He justly deserves from us creatures. It is the virtue of justice toward God.


918. What is adoration?

To adore God is to recognize, with respect and submission, the creature’s worthlessness apart from God. To adore God is to praise Him, exalt Him, and humble oneself before Him as Mary did in the Magnificat.


919. Why is prayer prescribed by the First Commandment?

Because without prayer we would not receive the grace we need to keep the commandments.


920. What is a sacrifice?

In the words of St. Augustine, “A true sacrifice is every action performed to be happy and to cling to God in holy fellowship” (The City of God, 10:6).
In more technical language, a sacrifice is the voluntary surrender of something precious to God.


921. How can we make our whole life a sacrifice to God?

By uniting our daily sacrifices with Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.


922. What is a promise to God?

It is either part of the liturgy, as in the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage; or an act of personal devotion in which a Christian promises God to do some good work, such as saying a certain prayer or giving a donation to some worthy cause.


923. What is a vow?

A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God concerning something that is both possible and better than its omission. Moreover, a vow is made as an act of the virtue of religion.


924. What are the vows of religion?

They are lifetime commitments to follow Christ more closely in the practice of the evangelical counsels of consecrated chastity, poverty, and obedience.

(915, 2103)

925. Are people obliged to seek the truth?

Yes, especially in what concerns God and His Church. They are further bound to embrace this truth once it is found. The reason is that the grace necessary for salvation is communicated only through faith in the truth revealed by God.


926. Are Catholics obligated to spread their faith?

Yes, they have the duty to make known the worship of God in the one true religion and the unique Church of Christ.


927. Does everyone have a right to religious freedom?

Yes, even those who do not fulfill their obligation to seek and adhere to the truth. However, where special recognition is given to a particular religion, the equal right of all citizens and religions must be recognized.


928. Is the right to religious liberty unlimited?

No, its limits must finally be determined by the objective moral order.


929. What are the principal sins against the First Commandment?

They are:
    • superstition, which may be called a perverse excess of religion, such as attributing religious benefits to merely external actions;

    • idolatry, which gives a creature divine honors;

    • divination, which seeks to know the future by having recourse to the evil spirit, or the spirits of the dead, or alleged hidden powers, instead of trusting in the providence of God;

    • magic and sorcery, which claim to evoke occult forces in order to have power over other people.


930. What are the principal sins against the virtue of religion?

They are:
    • testing God by demanding that He prove Himself in word or deed. This is what Satan did when he told Jesus to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, thus forcing God to act.

    • sacrilege, which means profaning or misusing the sacraments or other liturgical actions, or sacred persons, places, or things.

    • simony, which is buying or selling spiritual things. It is named after Simon Magus, the magician, who tried to buy from St. Peter the spiritual power that the Apostle possessed. Those who administer the sacraments may not ask for more than the Church’s authority permits and never deprive the poor of the sacramental services they need.


931. What is atheism?

Atheism denies or rejects the existence of God. It takes on different forms:
    • practical atheism, where people think and act as though there were no reality beyond space and time;

    • atheistic humanism, which considers man to be his own end, the sole maker and agent of his own history;

    • atheistic liberalism, which looks for mans’ liberation by merely social or economic means, independent of religion and God.


932. What are the causes of atheism?

Basically, atheism is the result of a false idea of human autonomy. In practice, it is often due to believers not having been educated in their faith, or taught erroneous doctrine, failing to live good religious, moral, or social lives.


933. What is agnosticism?

It refuses to affirm or deny God’s existence, which it claims cannot be proved. It is often simply a form of practical atheism.


934. What are the causes of agnosticism?

It can be the result of a search for God. But more often it is an escape from the ultimate question of existence and a laziness of one’s moral conscience.


935. What is the Church’s teaching on the veneration of sacred images?

The Church teaches that the Old Testament did not absolutely forbid the veneration of sacred images but only the idolatrous representation of God by the hand of man. With the Incarnation, Christ introduced a new understanding of images. Consequently, we are justified in venerating images of Christ, Our Lady, the angels, and saints. Our worship goes beyond the image to the reality we venerate.


Article 2: The Second Commandment

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God” (Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11).

“You have heard that it was said to them of old, you shall not forswear yourself…But I say to you not to swear at all” (Mt 5:33-34).

936. What does the Second Commandment prescribe?

It prescribes respect for the name of the Lord and regulates our use of words in speaking of sacred things.


937. To whom does God entrust the use of His name?

To those who believe in Him and to whom therefore He reveals His personal mystery.


938. How is the believer to witness to the Lord’s name?

By professing his faith without fear. Preaching and catechesis are to be permeated with respectful adoration of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


939. What does the Second Commandment forbid?

It forbids every irreverent use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and of all the saints. It also forbids the magical use of God’s name.


940. What are promises made to others in God’s name?

They are pledges of God’s honor. Not keeping such promises makes God a liar.


941. What is blasphemy?

Blasphemy is speaking either inwardly or outwardly against God. It can be uttering words of hatred, reproach, defiance, or evil against God. It is likewise blasphemous to speak evil against the Church of Christ, the saints, and sacred things. And finally, it is blasphemy to use God’s name for such criminal practices as enslaving, torturing, and killing people. Blasphemy is a grave sin by its very nature.


942. What is perjury?

It is a promissory oath that a person either does not intend or fails to keep. It is a grave sin.


943. Is it permitted to take an oath?

Yes, when it is taken to witness to the truth for serious reasons and when the oath is made with discernment and in the service of justice.


944. May an oath ever be refused?

Yes, whenever demanded for purposes contrary to a person’s dignity or communion with the Church.


945. What is the baptismal name?

It is the name given at Baptism, which can be the name of a saint or of a Christian faith or mystery. It should never be alien to Christian sentiment.


946. Why does a Christian make the sign of the Cross?

To begin his day, his prayers and actions “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Moreover, the sign of the Cross strengthens us in trials and temptations.


947. Why is each person’s name sacred?

Because God calls each of us by name (Is 43:1). Consequently, a person’s name is his icon, and must be respected as a sign of his dignity.


948. Does each person have a distinct name for all eternity?

Yes, in the kingdom, the mysterious and unique character of each person will shine in full light, marked with God’s name.


Article 3: The Third Commandment

The Old Testament understood the Sabbath to commemorate God’s creating the world and resting on the seventh day. Moreover:

  • It was a memorial of Israel’s liberation from Egypt.

  • It was a sign of the unbreakable covenant between God and His people.

  • It presented God as a model for human action. We are to rest periodically from our labors and not become slaves of labor and the worship of money.


950. How did Christ interpret the Sabbath?

He did so by respecting the holiness of the Sabbath while authorizing the practice of compassion and charity on this day.


951. How does Sunday commemorate the new creation?

The Jewish Sabbath recalled the first creation of the world. Sunday commemorates the new creation that opened with Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is the first of feasts, the Day of the Lord.


952. How is Sunday the fulfillment of the Sabbath?

Where the Sabbath prepared the people for Christ’s coming, Sunday is a weekly preparation for man’s eternal rest in God.


953. What does the celebration of Sunday fulfill?

It fulfills the moral commandment, inscribed in man’s heart, “to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship in recognition of His universal benefit to men” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II, II, 122.4.).


954. What celebration is at the heart of the Church’s life?

It is the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and the Eucharist of the Lord.


955. What feast days are likewise celebrated as holy days in the universal Church?

They are the Nativity of Our Lord, Epiphany, the Ascension, and the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ; the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, and Assumption; and the feasts of St. Joseph, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and All Saints.


956. What is a parish?

A parish is a particular community of the faithful established on a stable basis in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a parish priest as its own pastor, under the authority of the diocesan bishop.


957. Are Catholics obliged to assist at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?

Yes, it is binding under grave sin unless excused for a grave reason or dispensed by their own pastor.


958. Why must Catholics assist at Mass on Sundays?

Because the Sunday Eucharist is the basis and crown of all Christian practice. Moreover, the faithful thus give witness to their loyalty to Christ and His Church, testify to God’s holiness and hope of salvation, and strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


959. What are Sundays and holy days called “days of grace and rest from work”?

Because they are days of special grace from God and because we are to abstain from work, which would be an obstacle to the worship due to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, works of mercy, and the necessary relaxation of spirit and body.


960. Should Christians seek to have Sundays and holy days recognized as legal holidays?

Yes, out of respect for religious freedom and for the common good.


Chapter Two: You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

The second part of the Decalogue covers the fourth through the tenth commandments. It is also an expression of the love we are to show to others.

To be kept in mind is that Christ elevated both commandments of love, of God and our neighbor; far beyond what they were in the Old Law.

Thus, where the Mosaic Law prescribed, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Christ told his followers, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Article 4: The Fourth Commandment

“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the lord your God is giving you” (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16).

“Then he went down with them . . . to Nazareth and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51).

961. How does the Fourth Commandment express the order of charity?

After God, we should honor our parents, from whom we have received life and the knowledge of God.


962. What is the scope of this commandment?

    • It concerns all our family relationships.

    • It tells us to honor and love the elderly and our ancestors.

    • It expresses the duties of pupils to their teachers, employees to their employers, subordinates to their leaders, and citizens to their country and to those in government.


963. What are the benefits of observing the Fourth Commandment?

The spiritual benefits are God’s grace; the temporal benefits are peace and prosperity. Disobedience of this commandment causes great harm to persons and communities.


964. What is a family?

A man and a woman who are united with their children form a family.


965. Who instituted the family?

God created the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution.


966. What is the role of the state or public authority in the family?

The state must recognize the family as instituted by God and respect its rights accordingly.


967. What is the Christian family?

The Christian family is revealed by Christ as a communion of persons who reflect the communion of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in the society of the Holy Trinity.


968. What are some of the functions of the Christian family?

The Christian family is to reflect the procreative and educational work of the Father. Moreover, it is called to share in the prayer and sacrifice of Christ.


969. What is the mission of the Christian family?

It is to proclaim the Gospel.


970. How is the family a privileged community?

It is a privileged community because it is called by God to achieve a union of thought between the spouses as well as a zealous cooperation of the parents in the education of their children.


971. How is the family related to society?

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which man and woman are called to give themselves to each other in love and in the gift of life to their children. The authority, stability, and life relationships within the family lay the foundations of freedom, security, and fraternity in society.


972. Whose responsibility is it to care for the young and old, the sick and handicapped, and the poor?

It is first of all the responsibility of the family, with the help of other persons and families and, in a subordinate way, the help of society.


973. What are the basic rights that the state is to assure the family?

The state is to assure the family of the following:
    • the right to found a family, have children, and raise them according to the parents’ moral and religious convictions;

    • the right to protect the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;

    • the right of parents to profess their faith and hand it on to their children with the necessary means and institutions;

    • the right to private property and freedom of enterprise, to obtain work and lodging, and to emigrate;

    • the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;

    • the right to protection in security, public health, and especially against dangerous drugs, pornography, and alcoholism;

    • the right to form associations with other families and so be represented before civil authority.


974. How does the Fourth Commandment affect our view of society?

It enables us to see in everyone a person who is somehow related to us by origin or descent.


975. Are contracts sufficient for the good government of human communities?

No, their good government presupposes a natural good will, elevated by grace, that respects the dignity of human persons.


976. What is filial piety?

It is the children’s respect for their parents out of gratitude to those who have brought them into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace before God and man.


977. How is filial respect to be shown to parents?

By loving sincerity and true obedience.


978. What is the obedience that children owe their parents?

Children are to obey their parents in everything that concerns the children’s or the family’s physical and spiritual well-being. The same holds for the obedience due to those chosen by the parents to teach or otherwise train the children. When children reach majority, the children are still to respect their parents, ask for their advice, accept their justified reprimands, and anticipate their parents’ desires.


979. What are the duties of adult children toward their parents?

As far as they can, they should provide for material and moral needs, and assist their parents in loneliness, sickness, or old age.


980. How does filial piety affect other family relationships?

Filial piety fosters harmony among all blood relations, especially brothers and sisters, grandchildren and grandparents.


981. Who deserves special gratitude from children?

Those from whom the children received their gifts of faith, Baptism, and membership in the Catholic Church.


982. What is the most fundamental and inalienable right and duty of parents?

It is to provide for their children’s moral education and spiritual formation.


983. How do parents basically train their children to obey the laws of God?

They do so by being themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven.


984. How do parents first fulfill their responsibility to educate their children?

They do so by creating a home for their children. The home should be ruled by loving-kindness, forgiveness, mutual respect, fidelity, and selfless generosity.


985. How are these family virtues to be developed?

By training the children to subordinate their natural desires for self-satisfaction to interior and spiritual values.


986. How should parents teach their children to be on their guard?

They should warn their children to guard against influences that would compromise the children’s principles or degrade their moral and spiritual integrity.


987. When should parents begin to catechize their children?

Parents should initiate their children from infancy into the mysteries of the faith and the life of the Church.


988. What is the role of family catechetics?

Family catechetics is home religious education. It establishes, accompanies, and enriches all other forms of teaching the faith.


989. What is the role of the parish in catechesis?

As the Eucharistic community, the parish is a privileged place for the religious instruction of both parents and children.


990. What especially contributes to the holiness of the parents and the family?

It is mutual forgiveness among members of the family. Their readiness to forgive each other is essential for the well-being and even survival of the family.


991. What do children most need in infancy and as they grow up?

In infancy, parents are especially to care for their children’s physical and spiritual needs. As they grow up, parents are to train the children in the right use of their reason and free will.


992. How are parents primarily responsible in choosing schools for their children?

Parents have the primary duty to choose schools according to their own convictions. As far as possible, parents are obliged to choose schools that support their Christian faith. Public authorities have the duty to ensure parents that these kinds of schools are available.


993. How are parents to assist their children in choosing a state of life or a profession?

Parents are not to coerce their children. But they are to give good advice, especially when their children plan to found families of their own.


994. Is it ever advisable to sacrifice marriage?

Yes, especially when such a sacrifice is made to care for one’s parents, brothers, or sisters, or for other praiseworthy motives. From a Christian perspective this can be of great service to the human family.


995. What is the Christian’s first vocation?

It is to follow Jesus Christ. Loving Him takes precedence over the bonds of family life.


996. How are parents to view their children’s call to a consecrated life or priestly celibacy?

They should rejoice at this fact. It is a response to the special vocation that Christ promised to give some of His followers to sacrifice marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.


997. What are the basic duties of civil authorities?

    • They are to exercise their authority as a service—in Our Lord’s words, “as a servant”—to those under authority.

    • Their authority must be measured by the divine law.

    • They should respect each person’s freedom and responsibility; practice distributive justice; and resist the temptation to place their own interests ahead of those of the community.


998. Can the political rights of citizenship be suspended?

Yes, but only for legitimate and proportionally grave reasons.


999. What are the basic duties of citizens?

They are to see their superiors as representatives of God. They are therefore to obey and cooperate with those in authority for the common good. They are to pay their just taxes, exercise their right to vote, and share in the defense of their country.


1000. Are more prosperous nations obliged to welcome immigrants in search of security and livelihood?

Yes, as far as possible. Moreover, civil authorities are to respect the natural law that gives moral protection to the immigrant guests.


1001. May citizens engage in lawful protests?

Yes, they may even have the duty to protest against what they consider harmful to personal dignity and the good of the community.


1002. Are citizens ever obliged to refuse obedience to civil authority?

Yes, whenever the demands of civil authority contradict the demands of the moral laws of God, the fundamental rights of persons, and the teachings of the Gospel.


1003. When may citizens resort to force in resisting political power?

Whenever the political power becomes oppressive and the following conditions are fulfilled:
    • The violated rights are fundamental, and the violations serious and prolonged.

    • All other means of redress are exhausted.

    • Worse disorders are not provoked.

    • There is a well-founded hope of success.

    • It is reasonably impossible to foresee better solutions.


1004. What is the Church’s relation to the political community?

The Church has been divinely endowed with revealed truths. She invites political authorities to measure their judgments against those inspired by Christ and His Church.


1005. Is the Church identified with any political society?

No, because her commission and competence are with man’s supernatural life and heavenly destiny.


1006. Does the Church ever pass judgment on political matters?

Yes, she is divinely authorized to pass moral judgment on political matters whenever required by the fundamental rights of human persons or the salvation of souls.


Article 5: The Fifth Commandment

“You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13).

“You have heard it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not kill,’ and that ‘whoever shall kill shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Mt. 5:21-22).

This prohibition to kill is the prohibition to murder, which means the killing of an innocent human person.

1007. Why is murder forbidden by the divine law?

Murder is forbidden because human life is sacred, which means it belongs to God. It comes into being through the creative action of God. It remains always in a special relationship with the Creator and is destined to be with God as the end or purpose of its existence. Therefore, no one has the right directly to destroy any human being.


1008. What does the Bible teach about the sinfulness of murder?

From the Book of Genesis through the New Testament, the Scriptures forbid the killing of an innocent person. This prohibition is universally binding on everyone always and everywhere.


1009. How did Christ elevate the Fifth Commandment?

He did so in two ways:
    • by forbidding the interior sins of anger and envy, which lead to murder;

    • by commanding His followers to love their enemies in imitation of His own love for those who unjustly condemned Him to death.


1010. What is legitimate defense?

It is the use of violent means to defend one’s own life or the life of others. In the words of St. Thomas, “Defense can encompass two actions: the preservation of one’s own life and the aggressor’s death…the first in intended, the second is not” (Summa Theologica, II, II, 64.7).


1011. Why are we permitted to defend our own lives?

The basic reason is that authentic self-love is a fundamental principle of morality. In fact, self-defense even to the point of allowing the aggressor to die can be a serious duty for those responsible for the lives of others and for the common good of the family or the state.


1012. May unjust aggressors against the state be resisted by force?

Yes, in extremely grave situations the state may even resort to the death penalty.


1013. Is capital punishment ever justified?

Yes, as just explained, since justly condemned criminals are unjust aggressors of society. Moreover, civil authority has the duty to preserve public order, provide for the safety of its citizens, and inflict punishment as a compensation for the disorder caused by a crime.


1014. Can we say that capital punishment is a last resource?

Yes, if human lives can be protected against criminals and the public peace safeguarded without bloodshed, the state is obliged to do so.


1015. What is willful homicide?

Willful homicide is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. It is murder that nothing can justify, even if ordered by civil authority.


1016. What is the indirect provoking of a person’s death?

This is exposing anyone to mortal risk without serious reason, or refusing to help anyone in mortal danger. Examples of such would be tolerating deadly famines or drug trafficking.


1017. What is involuntary homicide?

Involuntary homicide is allowing a person to die without directly intending his death. This is morally justified, provided there are very grave reasons for permitting the person to die.


1018. What is abortion?

Abortion is the killing of an unborn human being in the mother’s womb. A human being exists from the moment of conception—that is, when the ovum is fertilized by the male sperm.


1019. What is the Church’s teaching on the morality of abortion?

From the first century of the Christian era, the Church has condemned direct abortion as a grave sin. Direct abortion is the killing of the unborn child, whether willed as an end or as a means for some other purpose, no matter how noble that purpose may be. This teaching has never changed and is unchangeable. As stated in The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: “You shall not murder the child by abortion and shall not kill the newborn” (Didache, 2,2).


1020. What is the penalty for abortion?

Besides the grave sin against God, everyone who has an abortion or cooperates in the abortion incurs automatic excommunication.


1021. Do unborn children have an inalienable right to life?

Yes, this right is not dependent on any human authority. It belongs to a person by virtue of a creative act of God.


1022. What should be said of a state law that denies this right to life?

Such a law is inherently unjust. It undermines the very foundations of the state.


1023. How is the human embryo to be treated?

It must be treated as a person from the moment of conception. Therefore, prenatal diagnosis is morally licit only if it respects the embryo as a human being and is directed to either safeguarding or healing this unborn individual. So, too, medical intervention is permissible only if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo, does not involve disproportionate risks, and does not threaten the survival or recovery of the health of the embryo.


1024. What is to be said about producing embryos?

It is morally sinful to produce human embryos as disposable biological material. Also immoral is every attempt to produce human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities.


1025. What is euthanasia?

Euthanasia is the deliberate ending of the life of a handicapped, sick, or dying person.


1026. What is the morality of euthanasia?

It is morally unjustified. Therefore, any action or omission which of itself or by intention causes death to end a person’s suffering is murder.


1027. What means are to be used to sustain a person’s life?

Such means are to be used as are not dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the hoped-for results. Death is not intended; it is merely accepted. However, ordinary care, like food and drink, may not be interrupted.


1028. What is suicide?

Suicide is the direct killing of oneself on one’s own authority.

1029. What is the morality of suicide?

Suicide is gravely sinful for the following reasons:
    • It contradicts the natural human inclination to remain alive out of an authentic love of self.
    • It unjustly severs the bonds of solidarity with one’s family and with human society.
    • It is contrary to the love we owe to the living God.


1030. What factors can diminish the guilt of suicide?

Psychological disorders, anguish, or a deep fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can lessen the responsibility for committing suicide.


1031. What is the Church’s attitude toward suicides?

The Church does not despair of the eternal salvation of suicides. She prays for persons who take their own lives.


1032. What is scandal?

Scandal is any action or omission, not necessarily sinful in itself, that leads another person to do something morally wrong.


1033. What is the morality of scandal?

Scandal is a serious sin if by action or omission it deliberately induces others to do something gravely wrong.


1034. How can scandal be provoked?

It can be provoked by the law, by institutions, fashion, or public opinion. Those in power who use their influence to produce evil are guilty of scandal.


1035. Are we obliged to respect our life and health?

We are obliged to take reasonable care of our physical life and health as precious gifts of God. Two important norms are the needs of others and the common good.


1036. What is the worship of the body?

It is the neopaganism that sacrifices all else for the welfare of the body. It idolizes physical perfection and success in sports.


1037. What is the virtue of bodily temperance?

It disposes us to avoid overindulgence in food, alcohol, tobacco, and medicines. Those who by drunkenness or passion for speed endanger their own or other people’s safety are guilty of grave sin. So, too, is the use of drugs except for strictly therapeutic reasons.


1038. Is scientific experiment on human persons morally neutral?

No. Such experiments must be at the service of human persons. It must respect their inalienable rights in keeping with the plan and will of God.


1039. Is research on human beings permissible?

Yes, but only if such research does not expose a person’s life or physical and psychological integrity to disproportionate or avoidable risks. Moreover, such research demands prior informed consent.


1040. Are organ transplants permissible?

Yes, but only on certain conditions, namely:
    • that the donor or those representing the donor give their informed consent;

    • that the benefits for the recipient are proportionate to the risks incurred by the donor;

    • that the organ transplant not cause the death or even disablement of a human being.


1041. What are the basic norms for respecting bodily integrity?

Kidnapping, taking hostages, terrorism, and torture are contrary to the respect for human dignity. Except for strictly therapeutic reasons, mutilation, amputation, and sterilization of innocent persons are also contrary to the moral law.


1042. What is the Church’s teaching on care for the dying and the deceased?

Dying persons should be prepared for eternity by prayer and the sacraments. The bodies of the deceased should be treated with respect and charity, based on faith and hope in the resurrection. Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy that honors the deceased as children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. Autopsies can be morally allowed for legal inquests or scientific research. The Church permits cremation, provided there is no questioning of faith in the resurrection of the body.


1043. What are the two main causes of murder?

They are anger, which is a desire for revenge, and hatred, which deliberately wishes evil to another person. Both are condemned by Christ as contrary to charity.


1044. What is peace?

Peace is the tranquility of order. Peace is the fruit of justice and the effect of charity. Peace on earth is the image and result of the peace of Christ. By the blood of His Cross, He merited our reconciliation with God, which is the foundation of peace among men.


1045. Is it legitimate to renounce violence in order to safeguard human rights?

Yes, provided this can be done without injuring the rights and duties of other persons and societies.


1046. Is war ever justified?

Every citizen and government must strive to avoid war. Yet, legitimate self-defense by military force is justified under certain strict conditions, namely, if:
    • the damage inflicted by the aggressor would be lasting, serious, and certain;

    • all other means are impractical or ineffective;

    • there is every serious prospect of success;

    • the arms used may not cause worse damage than the evils to be eliminated.


1047. Are citizens obliged to perform military service?

Yes, provided they are promoting the nation’s common good and safeguarding peace.


1048. Is the moral law to be observed during war?

Yes, as taught by the Church and human reason.


1049. Are conscientious objectors to be recognized?

Yes, those who for reasons of conscience object to war should be excused from bearing arms. However, they must serve the community in some other way.


1050. What are some moral norms to be observed during military conflict?

The Second Vatican Council has provided many such norms:
    • Noncombatants, wounded military people, and prisoners should be treated with respect and humanity.

    • The indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas is a crime against God and humanity.


1051. Does the arms race ensure peace?

No, rather than eliminating the causes of war, it aggravates them.


1052. What are the main causes of war?

The most common enemies of peace and causes of war are injustices, excessive economic and social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride among people and nations.


Article 6: The Sixth Commandment

“You shall not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14).

“You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28).

The foundations for the Sixth Commandment were laid in the opening pages of the Book of Genesis. Thus, we read that God created the human race “male and female” and told our first parents to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gn 5: 1-2).


1053. How does sexuality affect our whole life?

Sexuality affects our lives because it especially concerns our capacity to love and procreate.


1054. What is God’s plan for the two sexes?

In God’s plan they are to complement and cooperate with each other. The welfare of society greatly depends on this cooperation. Each of the two sexes is a reflection of the power and love of God, but in different ways. The union of man and woman in matrimony is an eloquent reflection, in the flesh, of the generosity and fruitfulness of the Creator.


1055. How does the Sixth Commandment include all of human sexuality?

It does so because this has been the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium since the time of Christ.


1056. What is chastity?

Chastity is the moral virtue of temperance that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of right reason and the Christian faith. Thus, the virtue of chastity integrates a person’s sexuality with his whole being, producing an interior unity of his body and soul.

(2337, 2341)

1057. Is chastity possible without the grace of God?

No, chastity is both a moral virtue and a gift from God. It is a supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit, who enables the baptized to imitate the purity of Christ.


1058. What are some of the blessings of chastity?

The most fundamental blessing of chastity is to unify the powers of our body with those of the soul. Moreover, chastity provides internal freedom by enabling us to control our sex passions and enjoying the peace that only chaste people can experience.


1059. How is the virtue of chastity to be maintained?

To remain chaste requires self-knowledge, asceticism according to one’s state of life, obedience to all of God’s commandments, the practice of the other moral virtues, and prayer.


1060. Are we to grow in the virtue of chastity?

Yes, chastity is a long-term moral process and follows the laws of spiritual growth. This growth is achieved “day by day through many free decisions, knowing, loving, and doing the moral good according to the stages of growth” (Familiaris Consortio, 34).


1061. Is growth in chastity only personal?

No, it also requires cultural effort on the part of society. This means respect for the rights of others, especially the right to receive an education that recognizes the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.


1062. How is chastity related to charity?

Chastity is directed not only to self-control, but to self-giving. Chaste people are witnesses to God’s faithfulness and loving tenderness. Chastity fosters friendship between people of the same or of opposite gender. Chaste friendship leads to spiritual communion.


1063. What are the forms of chastity?

The forms of chastity correspond to the different states of life. All the baptized are called to chastity. Married people have a vocation to conjugal chastity, others to the chastity of continence, which includes continence for those engaged to be married.


1064. What are the principal sins against chastity?

They are sins of lust, which is the desire for or indulgence in sexual pleasure apart from procreation or conjugal love. Lust takes on a variety of forms:
    • masturbation, which is voluntary stimulation of the sex organs outside of sexual intercourse;

    • fornication, which is the carnal union between unmarried men and women;

    • pornography, which is the display of sexual acts apart from the intimacy of married partners. Its purpose is to stimulate sinful sexual feelings;

    • prostitution, which is the sale of sexual activity, usually by women but sometimes also involving men, children, and adolescents;

    • rape, which is sexual intimacy under coercion.
All of these sins are gravely offensive and forbidden by the divine law.


1065. What is the Church’s teaching on homosexuality?

Homosexuality is sexual experience between two men or two women. The Church’s tradition has always taught that homosexual actions are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They exclude the gift of life from the sexual act. In no case can they be morally approved.


1066. Do some people have homosexual tendencies?

Yes, but these tendencies are not chosen; they are for most persons a trial. Such people should not be discriminated against. They are called to chastity. As Christians, they are to unite themselves with the Cross of the Savior and, with God’s grace, strive to attain Christian perfection.


1067. Is sexual pleasure in marriage pleasing to God?

Yes. While practicing due moderation, the sexual pleasure enjoyed in the marital act is a gift from God. Its purpose is to foster the twofold end of marriage, namely the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of human life.


1068. What is marital fidelity?

It is the mutual lifelong commitment of husband and wife, who enter into a covenant with God to remain faithful to each other, irrevocably, until death. In the Sacrament of Matrimony, they become part of the mystery of Christ’s fidelity to His Church.


1069. Must every marriage be open to the transmission of life?

Yes, this is the unchangeable teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. It reflects the humanly unbreakable connection between the unitive and the procreative purpose of marital intercourse.


1070. Is birth regulation permissible?

For unselfish reasons, a married couple may regulate the number of their children. But this regulation may not separate the twofold purpose of the marital act, namely the fostering of mutual love between the spouses and the procreation of children.


1071. What is periodic continence?

This is the control of human conception by restricting the marital act to the infertile periods of the wife. From the moral standpoint, natural family planning is permissible. As stated by Pope Paul VI, “If there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from physical or psychological conditions of husband or wife, or from external conditions, it is licit to take account of the natural rhythm inherent in the generative functions” (Humanae Vitae, II, 16).


1072. What is contraception?

Contraception is the deliberate interference with marital intercourse in order to prevent conception.


1073. Is contraception forbidden by divine law?

Yes, contraception has been forbidden from the earliest days of Christianity. The most significant document on the subject was issued by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae. Its central teaching declares as intrinsically evil “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of is natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (II, 14).
As further explained by Pope John Paul II: “By means of contraception, the spouses separate the two meanings that God has inscribed into the being of man and woman [namely, unitive and procreative love]. They act as ‘arbiters’ of the divine plan and they ‘manipulate’ and degrade human sexuality, and with it themselves and their married partner, by changing its value of ‘total self-giving’”(Familiaris Consortio, II, 32).


1074. What is the responsibility of the state in population growth?

The state may provide its citizens with sound information. But it may not substitute itself for the initiative of the spouses, nor may it encourage immoral means of regulating population growth.


1075. Are large families encouraged?

Yes. Sacred Scripture and the Church’s traditional teaching view large families as a sign of God’s blessing and the generosity of the parents.


1076. Are artificial insemination and fertilization morally permissible?

No, in both forms of artificial parenting.
Heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization intrudes a third person between father and mother by the gift of sperm, ovum, or the loan of a uterus. This is wrong because it violates the child’s right to be born of a father and mother, and the spouses’ right to become parents only through each other.
Homologous artificial insemination and fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists. It is morally wrong because it separates the sexual act from the procreative act. The conception and birth of a child are no longer the fruit of the married spouses but of others persons. This is contrary to the dignity and equality of that which must be shared by parents and children.


1077. When does a child have all the rights of a human being?

From the moment of conception.


1078. What is the Church’s teaching on sterility?

A married couple who cannot have children of their own should unite themselves with Christ on the Cross, who is the source of spiritual fruitfulness. They may adopt abandoned children or undertake some work of service for others.


1079. Why is adultery a grave sin?

Adultery is a grave sin because it is a great injustice to the married partner and violates the sanctity of the marital bond. It discredits the institution of marriage, and it compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of the children, who need the stable union of their parents.


1080. What are some of the Church’s basic principles regarding divorce?

    • Christ restored the indissolubility of marriage. Therefore, divorce was abolished by the Savior.

    • A valid sacramental and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power on earth.

    • Separation from “bed and board” may be justified as explained in canon law.

    • Civil divorce may be tolerated in certain grave situations.

    • Divorce introduces disorder into families and a plague of instability into societies.

    • If divorced people remarry according to civil law, they are living in a state of public adultery.

    • Innocent victims of a civil divorce do not violate the moral law.


1081. What are some other offenses against the dignity of matrimony?

    • The most notorious is polygamy, or a plurality of “wives.” Polygamy contradicts the divinely established communion of marriage and is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women.

    • Incest, or sexual relations between persons of the same family. It not only corrupts family life but shows a regression to animality.

    • Sexual abuse of children, which may scar them for life.

    • So-called free union, where a man and woman live together but without marriage. This is a reversion to pre-Christian paganism and destroys the very idea of a family.

    • Trial marriages, which are a claim that matrimony is experimental and that true love demands a total and definitive self-giving.


Article 7: The Seventh Commandment

The Seventh Commandment in both the Old and New Testaments is a simple prohibition “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15; Mt 19:18).

As Christianity understands this precept, it forbids either taking or keeping unjustly what belongs to someone else. It commands not only justice but also charity in the use of earthly possessions and the fruits of human labor.

Most importantly, this commandment teaches that the right to private property is not absolute. It must be consistent with the common good, and governed by the will of God and fraternal charity.


1082. To whom do the goods of creation belong?

They belong to the whole human race.


1083. Why then are these goods divided among people?

They are divided among people to bring everyone security in their lives, which are exposed to destitution and threatened by violence.


1084. How is the right to private property related to promoting the common good?

Promoting the common good is primary, even though it requires respect for private property.


1085. How are owners the stewards of providence?

They are stewards of providence because they have the duty to share the benefits of their possessions with as many other people as possible. Indeed, they are to reserve the better part for the guest, the sick person, and the poor.


1086. What is the right and duty of political authority?

It is to regulate the lawful exercise of property rights for the common good.


1087. What virtues are required to respect human dignity in economic matters?

They are temperance to moderate attachment to the goods of this world; justice to respect our neighbor’s rights; and solidarity to follow the Golden Rule and the example of Jesus Christ, who became poor that we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).


1088. What is theft?

Theft is appropriating another person’s goods against the reasonable will of the owner. It is therefore not theft to appropriate in some urgent or grave need.


1089. What are examples of theft?

It is theft to deliberately retain goods lent or objects lost; to defraud in business; to pay unjust wages; to speculate on the ignorance or hardship of others; to speculate at the grave disadvantage of others; to do bad work, to counterfeit checks or invoices, or to cause excessive waste and expense. In all these cases, restitution is necessary, according to one’s participation in the theft.

(2409, 2412)

1090. Are contracts binding in conscience?

Yes, contracts between persons are forms of commutative justice. Commutative justice is the foundation of human society and requires the protection of property rights, the payment of debts, and the fulfillment of whatever obligations were freely contracted.


1091. What is distributive justice?

This is what the community owes its citizens according to their contributions and their needs.


1092. What is the morality of gambling?

Gambling as such is not sinful. It becomes sinful when it deprives people of what they need to provide for themselves and their dependents. As a passion, gambling can become an addiction. Cheating in gambling can be serious.


1093. Is slavery sinful?

Yes, to buy, sell, or exchange human beings like merchandise is a sin against the dignity and basic rights of human persons.


1094. Does the Seventh Commandment oblige respect for the integrity of creation?

We are obliged to respect animals, plants, and inanimate creatures, which are intended for the good of humanity in the past, present, and future. This means several things:
    • Like God, we should treat animals kindly.

    • We may use animals for food and clothing, also to assist us in our work and recreation.

    • Reasonable experiments on animals are permissible; however we may not cause animals to suffer needlessly or waste their lives.

    • We must not spend on animals sums of money that should be devoted to needy persons, or love animals with an affection that only people deserve.


1095. What are the principal norms of the Church’s social doctrine?

The Church’s social teaching is based not only on human reason and experience but on divine revelation. It is ordered not only to peace and well-being here on earth but to eternal life. This doctrine holds the following:
    • Any social system governed by economic factors alone is morally wrong.

    • Any theory in which profit is the exclusive standard in business is likewise morally unjustified.

    • Any system that subordinates individuals to collective production or reduces persons to making financial profit enslaves man and leads to idolatry of money and the spread of atheism.

    • Communism and socialism—as well as individualism and the primacy of the market in capitalism--- are all rejected by the Church.


1096. What are the basic norms of social justice in economic activity?

Economic activity must be subordinated to the Church’s teaching on morality and social justice. Consequently:
    • Work is a sacred duty that is also redemptive by our imitating the earthly labors of Christ at Nazareth.

    • Work is to sanctify the person; the worker is not a mere robot who is put to work.

    • Everyone has a right to economic initiative. People should use their talents for the common good.

    • The conflicts arising between opposed interests should be reduced by negotiation.
    • While the state is to be involved, the primary responsibility for economic activity belongs not to the state but to individuals and voluntary associations in society.

    • As important as profits are to business leaders, these leaders are also to consider the well-being of the persons who are affected by their business.

    • Employment should be available without discrimination for men and women, the healthy and the disabled, natives and immigrants.

    • A just wage should provide for the material, social, cultural, and spiritual life of both the laborers and their dependents.

    • While it is permissible to strike, it becomes wrong when the strike involves violence, or is called for a purpose not directly connected with working conditions, or is contrary to the common good.

    • Contributions authorized for social security and welfare should be paid, because unemployment can be very harmful to both individuals and their families.


1097. Is there economic inequality among nations?

Yes, it is notorious. Its causes are abusive and even usurious financial systems, iniquitous commercial relations among nations, and the arms race.


1098. Do rich countries have an obligation to assist poorer nations?

Yes. The obligation stems from human solidarity and charity, and, where the prosperity of rich nations is the result of injustice in paying for their resources, out of justice.


1099. What is the value of direct international aid?

It is laudable but inadequate to meet the serious evils resulting from destitution or to provide permanently for alleviating needs. A total reassessment should be made, especially of agricultural labor, which involves the majority of the people in the Third World.


1100. What is the vocation of the laity?

The laity are to “animate the temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice” (John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei socialis, 47).


1101. What is the Church’s doctrine on our love for the poor?

This doctrine is founded on the teaching of Christ. Thus we are told:
    • Jesus Christ will recognize His own elect by what they have done for the poor.

    • The Church’s love for the poor is part of her revealed tradition. It stems from the Beatitudes, from Christ’s poverty, and from His attention to the poor.

    • Love for the poor is irreconcilable with the immoderate love of wealth or its egotistical use.

    • St. John Chrysostom tells us, “Not to share our goods with the poor is to steal from them” (Homily on Lazarus, 2, 5).

    • The works of mercy are to relieve both the material and the spiritual needs of others. Their spiritual needs include instruction in the faith, counseling and advising , and consoling and forgiving those who have offended us.

    • People oppressed by poverty, whether physical or otherwise, draw the special compassion of Christ. We are to demonstrate the same compassion.


Article 8: The Eighth Commandment

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16).

“Again, you have heard it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but fulfill your oaths to the Lord’” (Mt 5:33).

The Eighth Commandment forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others. But more fundamentally, it prescribes the duty of our vocation as God’s holy people to witness to Him who is and who wants the truth.


1102. What does it mean to live in truth?

To live in truth first means to believe in Jesus Christ, who is Truth Incarnate. It further means to live according to Christ’s teachings. It especially means living in conformity with Christ’s example, and thus remaining in His truth. St. John reminds us, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, while we are walking in darkness, we lie, and do not do what is true” (1 Jn 1:6).


1103. How are believers in Christ to witness to the truth?

They are to witness to Christ, who is the Truth, by their words and deeds. In this way, the true faith is transmitted to others. They are inspired to give this witness by the example of the martyrs over the centuries. The record of these martyrs is available in a library of literature, beginning with the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (107 A.D.).


1104. How can we offend against the truth?

    • We can sin against the truth by making a false testimony in court, and compounding the evil by perjury in taking an oath to confirm what is a lie.
    • We can further offend against the Eighth Commandment by rash judgment when we assume, without sufficient grounds, that someone has committed a sin.
    • We sin by detraction when we disclose to others, without sufficient reason, the moral failures of people that we know.
    • We commit calumny when we damage a person’s reputation by telling lies about an individual.
The remedy for all these failures of the Eighth Commandment is to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to people’s conduct than to condemn it.


1105. Why are flattery and servility sinful?

They are sinful because they encourage others in their perverse conduct.


1106. Why are bragging and mockery sinful?

Bragging and boasting are sinful either because they go beyond the truth or because the braggart is deceitfully taking personal credit for something that should be credited to God. Mockery is sinful because it maliciously caricatures some aspect of a person’s behavior.


1107. What is a lie?

A lie is speaking a falsehood with the intention to deceive. It is speech contrary to the mind. It is withholding the truth from someone who has a right to it.


1108. Why is lying sinful?

Lying is sinful because it is a profanation of language, a failure in justice and love, an act of violence against others. It sows the seeds of division of opinion, undermines trust among people, tears apart the fabric of social relations, and is disastrous to human society.


1109. Do sins against the Eighth Commandment require restitution?

Yes, because every offense against justice and truth demands reparation. This holds even if the guilty person has been pardoned. If the injury cannot be repaired directly, then moral reparation should be made in the name of charity.


1110. What are some basic principles for respecting the truth?

The fundamental norm is that the right to communicate the truth is not conditional. We must conform our lives to the Gospel precept of fraternal charity. Among other reasons for not revealing what we know are the good and security of others, the duty to avoid scandal, and realizing that no everyone has a right to know the truth.
The seal of confession is absolute so that a confessor may not betray the penitent in any way, for any reason, whether by word or by any means of communication.
What are called professional secrets, confided to doctors or lawyers or in confidence, may not be divulged unless grave harm would otherwise result.
In general, we should practice reserve about the private lives of other people.


1111. What is the Church’s teaching on the use of mass media?

Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity.
Viewers, listeners, and readers should exercise great discretion, moderation, and discipline in the use of the media. Otherwise, they can become passive victims of the untruth.
Journalists, like other public informants, must observe the truth and not offend against charity.
Civil authority has the duty to punish any violation of a person’s right to privacy and a good reputation. Civil authority has the corresponding duty not to violate the freedom of any individuals or groups in a society.
It is a scourge in any country where the state systematically falsifies the truth, exercises political control over the media, manipulates people in public trials, and represses every view that is contrary to that of the state.


1112. What is the relationship between truth and beauty?

As the Book of Wisdom makes clear, truth is beautiful and attracts on being seen. The fine arts are inspired by the desire to portray truth beautifully. When authentic, the arts express the truth of a reality in language accessible to sight and sound.
Sacred art is true and beautiful when it corresponds in its form to the purpose of sacred art, which is to evoke and glorify the inexpressible mystery of God in faith and adoration. This divine beauty is fully revealed in Christ and reflected in the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints. That is why bishops should promote sacred art and remove from the liturgy and church buildings whatever is alien to the truth of the faith or to authentic beauty of sacred art.


Article 9: The Ninth Commandment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Dt 5:21).

“Anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28).

At the root of all sins of the flesh is concupiscence, or the desire for carnal pleasure. It began with the disobedience of our first parents, and it unsettles our moral equilibrium and inclines us to sins of the flesh.


1113. What does the Ninth Commandment forbid?

It forbids all internal sins of thought and desire against chastity. It forbids our flesh to dominate our spirit.


1114. What does the Ninth Commandment prescribe?

It prescribes purity of heart. As expressed in the sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” We are told to purify our hearts in these ways: in love (or charity), in chastity (or sexual integrity), and in love of the truth (or orthodoxy). These three are closely interrelated. True charity is chaste; true chastity is based on the true faith.


1115. What is the struggle for purity?

This is the lifelong struggle that we Christians must expect in conflict with concupiscence and disorderly appetites. Four conditions must be fulfilled to remain chaste:
    • We must rely on our infused virtue and gift of chastity.

    • We must sincerely strive to do God’s will in everything.

    • We must discipline our emotions, imagination, and thoughts.

    • We must pray for the grace of chastity.


1116. How is modesty related to chastity?

Modesty is the virtue that moderates the internal and external movements of a person according to one’s endowments, possessions, and station in life. Thus understood, modesty is necessary to preserve our own chastity and that of others. Why? Because we have a fallen human nature. Modesty avoids unnecessary stimulation of the sex appetite, protects us from sexual seduction, preserves the mystery of persons and their love, guards a person’s privacy, inspires the choice of clothing, and maintains silence or reserve in the presence of vain curiosity. Modesty is decency, and should be taught children from their tenderest years.


1117. How does Christian purity depend on the social climate?

Christian purity calls for a purification of the social climate, especially the media. The widespread eroticism that characterizes the modern world rests on a false idea of human freedom. Only the moral teaching of Jesus Christ provides the principles and supernatural resources necessary to preserve and grow in Christian chastity.


Article 10: The Tenth Commandment

“Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Dt 5:21).

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21).

The Tenth Commandment completes the divine precepts of the Decalogue. As the Ninth Commandment prescribes our control of the concupiscence of the flesh, the Tenth Commandment prescribes our mastery of the natural desire to possess.


1118. What is the disorder of covetousness?

It is one of the seven capital disorders of our fallen human nature. It is therefore the natural tendency to unlimited acquisition of earthly goods, unbridled greed for riches and power, and the desire to deprive our neighbor unjustly of his temporal possessions.


1119. Who must struggle most to keep the Tenth Commandment?

Those whose position, profession, or livelihood depends upon people who are in need, or those who are suffering or in trial. Examples include merchants, physicians, and lawyers.


1120. How is envy a sin against the Tenth Commandment?

Envy is sorrow at another person’s possessions or achievement. It includes the sinful desire to appropriate what someone else has. According to St. Augustine, envy is the diabolical sin, since it was out of envy that the devil seduced our first parents from Paradise. Even as envy comes from pride, Christians train themselves to live in humility.


1121. What is poverty of spirit?

Poverty of spirit is putting the first Beatitude into practice. It means having one’s heart set on the Kingdom of Heaven instead of any earthly kingdom. It is surrender to the providence of God, which frees us from anxiety about tomorrow.


1122. How are we liberated by our desire for true happiness?

We are liberated by our deliverance from inordinate attachment to anything in this world. Our thirst for God is quenched only by eternal life.


1123. What is the price we must pay to gain eternal life?

The price is high. It is nothing less than mortifying our natural cravings. With God’s grace, it means that we overcome the seduction of pleasure and powers.


1124. Is there a one-paragraph description of our heavenly destiny?

It is expressed in St. Augustine’s classic City of God, in which he says “God Himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate Him without end, love Him without surfeit, praise Him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all” (22:30).


Copyright © 1999 Inter Mirifica

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