What is a mortal sin? Is physical or verbal agression to a family member, father, brother, sister, mother, uncle, cousin, aunt or friend a mortal sin. What are the effects and can it be forgiven and in what way?



From Wiki we learn:

A mortal sin (Latin: peccata mortalia), in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace.


  • Its subject matter must be grave.
  • It must be committed with full knowledge (and awareness) of the sinful action and the gravity of the offense.
  • It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.

And from BeginningCatholic.com we read:

… a single act of mortal sin is a bold declaration that you do not accept God’s love.

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him…. Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. (Catechism, 1855 & 1861; The entirety of Catechism section IV is of great value here and should be read carefully.)

From these perspectives, verbal aggression COULD be a mortal sin IF the aggression is remarkably substantial, the perpetrator is fully aware that he/she is comitting a mortal sin, and the action is not spontaneous nor an act of passion, but is deliberate --- even planned.

That describes a remarkably evil person, but in my experience, the vast majority of people who are verbally aggressive are no where near comitting a mortal sin (though a sin, certainly, Matt 18:6 and Matt 18:3-4). However, perhaps the most important aspect is this line of the Catechism...

If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness...

A mortal sin is something that must either be declared by the authority of the church, or judged by the Lord after death. Therefore, the simplest answer to your question is "no."

As for forgiveness, that begins with repentance, which begins with stopping the sinful behavior.

If your circumstance or the circumstances of someone you know led to this question, I strongly recommend contacting your priest/pastor.

  • 1
    I would be careful about declaring that verbal aggression is not mortal, especially when directed at a family member. The CCC states " Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: 'Do not kill, ... Honor your father and your mother."... One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.'" Matthew 5:21-26 suggest that the anger behind the aggression is a grave matter already. See also 1 John 3:15. As you stated, discuss this with a priest/pastor.
    – bradimus
    Jul 17 '17 at 0:22
  • 1
    For completeness: Matthew 5:21-22: You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
    – bradimus
    Jul 17 '17 at 0:32
  • Points well taken, @bradimus. I try intentionally to be slow to judge simply because I lack wisdom and judgement (especially rash judgement) can affect a family for generations. Jul 17 '17 at 1:38
  • Suggest that you reference the official teaching of the church, CCC 1854 - 1861. Jul 17 '17 at 2:59

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