The Catholic Church teaches, as St. Thomas Aquinas explained, that God intended our first parents to give their descendants the blessings of original justice. When they lost the gifts, however, they could not give them to their posterity. Thus, the 5th session of the Council of Trent (1546) teaches that original sin is transmitted by propagation and not imitation.

However, the contention arises in, if original sin is transmitted by propagation not by imitation. Somehow understanding it biologically implied that the transmission would be thru sexual procreation.. but the Council implied only a metaphysical transmission since the soul is immaterial being... I will quote the interpretation of Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, O.P. (Thomistic Evolution site):

Now, some may read this statement by the Council of Trent – that original sin is transmitted by propagation and not by imitation – as a claim that original sin is transmitted biologically. However, the consequences of original sin are privations in the soul of the human being. Because of the original sin, his soul lacks grace and the preternatural gifts. Thus, when the Council of Trent teaches that the consequences of the original sin are transmitted by propagation and not by imitation, we should understand this as a metaphysical and not a biological claim. As an immaterial spirit, our soul and its properties are not determined by our genes. Instead, when God creates our souls when we are conceived, He creates them without the graces and gifts that we should have inherited from our original parents.

In view of the Catholic Church Teaching defined in Council of Trent: Does God give a human soul deprived of sanctifying grace at conception?

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    I've read the link and CCC2270 states the soul was given at conception,totally accepted. My clarification seeks on what kind of soul God gave at conception? does it have sanctifying grace or deprived of it...clearly soul comes from God and it's pure & holy but how come God did not gave it with sanctifying grace like Adam & Eve? or perhaps God gave it with same gifts but since the body(flesh&blood) is tainted, the sanctifying grace given cannot dwells in the body at conception.Godbless Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 6:01
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    Possible duplicate of At what point is a new soul created according to the Catholic Church? Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 16:49
  • At the moment of conception, God creates the soul of that person. Usually, that soul is created in a merely natural condition, i.e., with the attributes that go with human nature. This means that God does not, at that moment, give the newly created soul the supernatural gift of sanctifying grace. (I wrote "usually" because of the exceptions of Jesus and Mary, who had sanctifying grace already at the moment of conception.) Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 18:23
  • Andreas Blaass In CCC404 Adam received original holiness & justice not for himself alone but for all human nature. It means God gave all soul the gift of sanctifying grace, the difference Adam & Eve was a virgin body while mankind after the fall had fallen nature, body is now tainted not pure/virgin. I believe God justice & generosity is equal to all souls , mankind fallen nature cannot yet received or receptive to sanctifying grace not because it was not given but because the body need to be washed first of original sin.Remember sanctifying grace is a free gift, we don't have to merit it. Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 20:48
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    @AndreasBlass my understanding of CCC404 is incorrect, I was enlightened by the answer of Geremia, your correct that a soul at conception was deprived of sanctifying grace.Jesus Christ had won for us that sanctifying grace again it will be given to the soul in the Sacraments of Baptism..and Sacraments of Reconcilliation is important to bring it back again if we fall again to mortal sins..thanks for your answer,I am now enlightened.Godbless Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


St. Thomas Aquinas writes in Summa Theologica I-II q. 81 a. 1 ad 2:

Although the soul is not transmitted, because the power in the semen is not able to cause the rational soul [cf. I q. 118 a. 2], nevertheless the motion of the semen is a disposition to the transmission of the rational soul [which God creates ex nihilo]: so that the semen by its own power transmits the human nature from parent to child, and with that nature, the stain which infects it

So, it's the human nature (body+soul composite) that is infected, and semen is only an instrumental cause of bringing about a particular human nature. The corrupted body infects the soul, the rational soul being "the subject of sin" (ibid. arg. 2).

This will shed some light on your question:

  • St.Thomas views the semens transmit the human nature (flesh & blood) which inherited the original sin infects the rational soul.It clearly defines the soul doesn't originates in man...The giver of life/soul is God...as I stand on CCC404 the original justice/sanctifying grace was given to all.The human body cannot receive the sanctifying grace yet but it's there .As the Holy Spirit cannot dwells in a sinful flesh...This is still my understanding every soul given by God is pure & holy w/sanctifying grace...the deprivation does not comes from God but because of fallen nature of man. Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 17:27
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    @jongricafort "The human body cannot receive the sanctifying grace" What does it mean for the human body to have grace? Grace pertains to the intellectual soul.
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 17:30
  • 2Geremia your correct my own understanding is clouded.The key to clarity is Sacraments of Baptism & Reconcilliation....Sanctifying Grace, after the death of Jesus Christ was conferred to the Church thru priestly ministry.God gave a rational soul w/ faculties but the sanctifying grace was conferred to the Church.That's why Baptism is with water & spirit...cleanse us first of original sin & the Spirit is needed to conferred sanctifying grace.thanks a lot.Indeed a Church & Priesthood are important..Godbless Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 23:38
  • @jongricafort Can a corpse sin?
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 0:10
  • @jongricafort Of course the sacraments are necessary because (for humans) "Nothing is in the intellect[ual soul] which is not first in the senses" (axiom 3.1 in this list of scholastic axioms).
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 0:10

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