mortal sin

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With mortal sin ( Latin peccatum mortiferum or mortem ) are in the Catholic Church particularly serious forms of sin called, by which man is aware of communion with God and willingly leaves. A particularly gross offense is also called blatant sin ( Latin peccatum clamans ).

The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church distinguishes venial sin ( Latin peccatum veniale ) as a minor, minor offense from mortal sin. The cardinal virtues are contrasted with the deadly sins .


For a sin to be judged as serious, three conditions must be met:

  • Sin must have grave subject matter, particularly a violation of the Ten Commandments ; traditionally, adultery , murder or apostasy (= apostasy ) are mentioned.
  • The sinner must commit mortal sin “with full awareness”, ie recognize the gravity of the sin beforehand.
  • The sin must be committed “with deliberate consent” (that is, of one's own free will ).

Pope John Paul II specified the term mortal sin in the apostolic letter on reconciliation and penance in the Church Reconciliatio et paenitentia from 1984 as follows:

“[Church doctrine calls] a mortal sin that act by which a person consciously and freely rejects God and his law and the covenant of love that he offers him, choosing to turn to himself or to any created and finite reality, anything that contradicts divine will. "

Overall, mortal sin expresses a turning away from the fellowship with God based on the forgiveness of sins through baptism . For the renewed forgiveness of personal guilt, complete or imperfect repentance is sufficient , that is, the conscious turning to the love of God in the sacrament of penance.

Differentiation from vice

Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516): The Seven Deadly Sins; in the corners: the last four things

According to classical theology, sins arise from seven bad character traits:

1. Superbia
Arrogance ( pride , vanity , arrogance )
2. Avaritia
Avarice ( greed , greed)
3. Luxuria
Lust (debauchery, indulgence, desire , unchastity)
4. Ira
Anger (hot temper, anger , vengeance )
5. Gula
Gluttony (gluttony, indulgence, intemperance, selfishness )
6. Invidia
Envy ( jealousy , resentment )
7. Acedia
Laziness ( cowardice , ignorance , weariness, indolence of heart)

These character traits are known as the main vice and are summarized under the acronym Saligia , which emerged in the Middle Ages . They are considered the cause of many sins ( daughter sins ) and can lead to both grave and venial sins. Since the main vices are the cause and thus the root of sins, they are sometimes referred to as root sins ; the term main sins is also used.

The designation of the seven main vices as "seven deadly sins" is confusing and theologically incorrect, but is in common use. They are indeed independent sins, but deadly sins are only a few of them - even according to their material, so without taking into account the “mitigating circumstances” lack of knowledge and will - and then mostly only in their full expression.

Such a categorization of human vices can be found for the first time in Euagrios Pontikos at the end of the 4th century. He names eight negative traits that monks can be afflicted with. Invidia was not one of them for him, but in addition to the above-mentioned Vana Gloria ( addiction to fame) and Tristitia ( sadness ). Pope Gregory I († 604) assigned sadness to acedia, lust for fame to arrogance and added envy to the catalog of sins.

Even then, certain demons were assigned to the main vices . Most widespread, however, are the assignments by Peter Binsfeld from the 16th century. He assigns Lucifer to arrogance, Mammon to avarice, Leviathan to envy, Satan to anger, Asmodeus to lust, Beelzebub to gluttony and Belphegor to laziness.

In medieval theology, the main vices are often contrasted with the cardinal virtues . Several church fathers and theologians dealt with the main sins and also contributed to their systematization. Pope Gregory I compared them with the "Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit ".

In the 1992 Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church , the first major sin named is not pride, but pride .

Theological Consequences

According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, (serious) sin leads to the second death , the punishment from hell , if one dies without complete repentance and repentance. The forgiveness of mortal sin can only sacrament of penance or perfect contrition (d. H. Repentance out of love for God) are achieved. Complete repentance must contain the desire to receive the sacrament of penance and absolution (see below). Receiving Holy Communion is also forbidden as unworthy. In personal confession, through the priest in persona Christi , the Church releases the sinner from his sins by virtue of divine authority: he grants absolution . Here even imperfect repentance (i.e., repentance for fear of God's punishment) is sufficient for the effective restoration of the grace of baptism.

The "Seven Deadly Sins" in Art and Pop Culture

Visual arts

The seven main sins (also referred to as "the seven deadly sins") are a common pictorial theme in the visual arts and especially in painting and graphics. Image cycles already existed in the Middle Ages and extend to the present day.






Television series

  • Charmed - Magical Witches , The Seven Deadly Sins. Episode 62 (3.18) (Original title: Charmed, Sin Francisco ), 2000.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist , 2001–2010, the Homunculi , named after the deadly sins and with corresponding characters.
  • ProSieben: The 7 Deadly Sins - The Abyss Within Us, high-end documentary fiction series, 2007.
  • Supernatural , The Magnificent Seven, Episode 45 (3.01) (Original title: Supernatural, The Magnificent Seven ), 2007.
  • Xena - The Warrior Princess , Heart of Darkness, Episode (6.03).
  • In the anime series Digimon , Demon (anger, season 2), Beelzebumon (gluttony, season 3), Lucemon Falldown Mode (arrogance, season 4), Belphemon (indolence, season 5) and Lilithmon (lust, season 6) appear ) on.
  • The magazine broadcast by Arte , Abwickt! has been treating the seven deadly sins satirically in a Sunday episode since September 2014.
  • The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror XVIII. Episode 405 (19.5) 2007.
  • As an anime Seven Deadly Sins , 2012.


Music video


  • In D.Gray-man , Noah embodies the deadly sins.
  • Fullmetal alchemist . In the manga series by Hiromu Arakawa , the homunculi are named after the seven deadly sins and how they are characterized.
  • In Angel Sanctuary by Kaori Yuki, the 7 deadly sins are represented by the 7 satans ( Belial : arrogance, Balbero: irascibility, Leviathan: envy, Astaroth : indolence, Asmodeus: lust, Mammon: greed, Beelzebub: gluttony).
  • In Nanatsu no Taizai or Seven Deadly Sins , the main characters (a group of knights and alleged traitors) embody the seven deadly sins and also have them as nicknames.
  • In Servamp , the Alpha Vampires embody the 7 deadly sins and also have them as nicknames.
  • In Trinity Seven , the individual libraries of magic teachings are divided into 7 deadly sins.

Computer games

  • In 7 Deadly Sins, an online game , it's about to commit all seven deadly sins within 14 days.
  • Dante's Inferno is a game designed in allusion to Dante's Divine Comedy . On his journey through hell, Dante has to cross nine circles of hell , some of which are named after the deadly sins.
  • In Devil May Cry 3 , the opponents in the game are named after the seven deadly sins.
  • In The Binding of Isaac there is a room on some levels with a "mini-boss", each of which represents one of the seven deadly sins.
  • In the game Crusader Kings 2 , characters can adopt the seven deadly sins as properties.
  • In Sacra Terra: Angelic Night, an online game, the demons of the seven deadly sins are prevented from wreaking a hell on earth in an asylum .
  • In the Japanese game Shadow Hearts: From the New World , six out of seven characters in " Purgatory " are ascribed a mortal sin: Shanaia: Anger; Natan: laziness; Frank: Arrogance; Mao: greed; Hilda: Gluttony; Ricardo: Lust. The last opponent is 'envy'.
  • The psychopaths in the game Dead Rising 3 also attributed deadly sins: Harry Wong Zhi: Anger; Theodore Lagerfeld Jr .: Laziness; Jherii Gallo: arrogance; Darlene Fleischermacher: Gluttony; Dylan Fuentes: Lust; Albert Contiello: greed; Kenny Dermot: Envy.
  • In the Dragon Age game series , high-ranking demons are also named after the seven deadly sins. So far there have been greed, lust, anger, pride and laziness.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni the 7 deadly sins appear as the "Seven Sisters of Purgatory". They represent Lucifer , Mammon , Leviathan , Satan , Asmodeus , Beelzebub and Belphegor .

Use of the term “seven deadly sins” in other contexts

To identify serious wrong decisions or developments, serious rule violations or actions that must be avoided, lists or catalogs of vices are created that may or may not be related to the classic deadly sins.

German criminal law

In German criminal law, the colloquial term “seven deadly sins” has become commonplace for the criminal traffic offenses listed in Section 315c (1) No. 2 (a) to (g) StGB .

Secondary literature

  • Alexandra Buterus u. a .: The 7 deadly sins. 1,700 years of cultural history between virtue and vice. Edited by the Dalheim Monastery Foundation . LWL State Museum for Monastery Culture . Editor: Maria Tillmann. Ardey, Münster 2015, ISBN 978-3-87023-379-2 (exhibition catalog for the special exhibition from May 30 to November 1, 2015. Anthology with further texts by Linda Eggers, Dieter Hattrup , Helga Fabritius, Ingo Grabowsky, Carolin Mischer, Stefanie Wittenborg).
  • Ed. Kunstmuseum Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee : Lust and Vice. The 7 deadly sins from Dürer to Nauman. Exhibition catalog for the exhibition from October 15, 2010 to February 20, 2011. Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2010, ISBN 978-3-7757-2647-4 (with texts by Fabienne Eggelhöfer, Christine Göttler, Claudine Metzger, Monique Meyer, Barbara Müller , Annette Schaffer, Gerhard Schulze , Samuel Vitali).
  • Vilém Flusser : The story of the devil (= Edition Flusser. Volume 2). 2nd Edition. european photography, Göttingen 1996, ISBN 978-3-923283-40-8 .
  • Heiko Ernst : How the devil rides us. On the topicality of the 7 deadly sins. Ullstein, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-550-07832-3 .
  • Horst Herrmann : The seven deadly sins of the church. A plea against contempt for human beings (= Goldmann. Volume 12356). Goldmann, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-442-12356-9 .
  • Aviad Kleinberg: The Seven Deadly Sins. A preliminary list. Translated from the English by Christian Wiese . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-458-17482-0 .
  • Franz Kranewitter : The Seven Deadly Sins. A one-act cycle (1902–1925). Single and selected by Ernst Gampe. Stiasny, Graz 1962, DNB 452563054 (a detailed record of the deadly ways of speaking and norms of behavior in a topographically and mentally closed village community). Complete in: Collected Works. Edited by the Adolf Pichler community in Innsbruck. Verlag “Das Bergland-Buch”, Graz / Vienna / Leipzig / Berlin (inter alia) 1933, pp. 495–647 (online at ALO ).
  • Gerhard Schulze : Sin. The beautiful life and its enemies. Hanser, Munich / Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-446-20672-8 .
  • Meinolf Schumacher : Heinrich Kaufringer's poem "Of the seven deadly sins and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit". In: Yearbook of the Oswald von Wolkenstein Society. Volume 9, 1996/97, ISSN  0722-4311 , pp. 309–322, urn : nbn: de: 0070-pub-18600390 ( [PDF; 1.6 MB]; accessed on 15. September 2016).
  • Meinolf Schumacher: Catalogs of Demons as Catalogs of Vices in Medieval German Literature. "The Devil's Net" and the Alexander Romance by Ulrich von Etzenbach. In: Richard Newhauser (Ed.): In the Garden of Evil. The Vices and Culture in the Middle Ages (= Papers of mediaeval studies. Volume 18). Edited by Richard Newhauser. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto 2005, ISBN 0-88844-818-X , pp. 277-290.
  • Stephan Sigg : The seven deadly sins. Stories from our time. Illustr. by Niklas Schütte. Gabriel, Stuttgart / Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-522-30283-8 (subject group children's and youth literature, etc.).
  • Norbert Silberbauer : Seven falls. Picus, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-85452-627-8 (subject group fiction, etc.).
  • Jürgen Werner : The seven deadly sins. Insights into the depths of human passion. German Verl.-Anst., Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-421-05278-6 .
  • Father Zoche : The seven deadly sins of our time. Econ, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-430-20055-4 .

On the iconography of the seven deadly sins

  • Daniela Erlach (Red.): The seven deadly sins in the early modern era (= early modern era info. 21.2010, 1/2). Edited by the Institute for Research into the Early Modern Age. Vienna 2010, ISSN  0940-4007 (collection of articles on the conference “The seven deadly sins in the early modern times” of the institute, Vienna October 2009; table of contents. In: H-Soz-Kult . 23 September 2010).
  • In the garden of evil. The services and culture in the Middle Ages (= Papers of mediaeval studies. Volume 18). Edited by Richard Newhauser. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto 2005, ISBN 0-88844-818-X .
  • Richard Newhauser: The seven deadly sins: from communities to individuals (= Studies in medieval and Reformation traditions. History, Culture, Religion, Ideas. Volume 123). Brill, Boston; ProQuest, Ann Arbor, Michigan 2007, ISBN 978-90-474-2945-6 .
  • Susanne Blöcker: Studies on the iconography of the seven deadly sins in Dutch and German painting and graphics from 1450–1560 (= Bonn studies on art history. Volume 8). Lit, Münster / Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-89473-387-X .

Web links

Commons : The Seven Deadly Sins  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wiktionary: Mortal Sin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997), No. 1866.
  2. Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (KKK), No. 1857.
  3. The official Latin text reads (No. 17): “ Cum tota Ecclesiae traditione peccatum mortale eum dicimus actum, quo homo lib ere scienterque repudiat Deum, eius legem, foedus caritatis, a Deo sibi propositum, praeoptans se ad se ipsum , ad aliquid divinae voluntati contrarium convertere (id conversio ad creaturam vocatur). "
  4. See Reconciliatio et paenitentia . No. 17.
  5. Bertram Söller: 'From the Seven Deadly Sins' II (prose treatise on the seven deadly sins and their daughter sins). In: Author's Lexicon . Volume VIII, Col. 1173 f.
  6. Iron Maiden Moonchild Lyrics. In: February 20, 2006, accessed on November 10, 2016 (text, English).
  7. Cf. Akeda (The Binding of Isaac) : Gen 22.1-19  LUT .
  8. ^ Reinhart Maurach , Friedrich-Christian Schroeder , Manfred Maiwald: Criminal law. Special Part, Volume 2: Offenses Against Community Values. 9th edition. Müller, Heidelberg a. a. 2005, ISBN 3-8114-3344-X , p. 42.