Catholic 7 Deadly Sins—History, And How to Avoid Them

The Catholic Church teaches that engaging in capital sin opens the door for other sins that may cause one to go against the divine laws of God as listed in the Ten Commandments.

Depending on the type of deadly sin that a member commits, an individual can break one or more of God’s laws.

The Catholic Church views the seven deadly sins as the gravest sins that members of the church and humanity as a whole can commit against God.

Additionally, the seven deadly sins are also called mortal sins because the church believes that they lead to the death of one’s soul.

To elaborate, Catholicism teaches that those who die without confessing their mortal sins will be subjected to endless pain and torment in hell.

Through the sacramental confession, members of the Catholic Church can show remorse for the sins that they have committed.

According to Catholic teachings, the sacramental confession was established by Jesus Christ to show his love for humanity. As such, it is only through Christ that one can gain salvation after committing a cardinal sin.

One of the main duties of the Catholic Church is to teach its members about the seven cardinal sins and how they can be avoided. 

Those who choose to commit one or more of the capital sins are said to have turned away from God deliberately. Consequently, they will not only be cut off from God but will also lose His favor ad grace.

History of the Catholic 7 Deadly Sins

To get a better understanding of how the Catholic Church established the 7 deadly sins, it’s important to go through the history of the church and how the first sin was committed.

Being one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the history of the Catholic Church can be traced back up to 2,000 years ago when it started in Judea.

However, Christianity and other religions teach that sin has been in the world from the moment Adam and Eve decided to disobey God. Commonly known as the original sin, Catholicism teaches that this act of disobedience doomed mankind right from the start.

According to Catholicism beliefs, each of the cardinal sins can be directly linked to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in one way or another.

From this, it is clear that sin has been around even before the first religion was founded. This also applies to the seven cardinal sins and the Catholic Church as the sins were coined before the emergence of the early Roman Catholic Church.

Origins of the 7 Cardinal Sins

The coining and spread of the teachings of the seven capital vices can be credited to devout religious scholars like Ponticus, Saint Gregory the Great, and St. Thomas Aquinas. 

Nonetheless, other people like the famous poet, Geoffrey Chaucer also played a special role in promoting the teachings.

  • Ponticus

– The origins of the seven cardinal sins can be traced back to the 4th century when Ponticus, an early Christian monk penned a list of attributes that he thought were not acceptable before God and the Christian religion.

– It is not clear how Ponticus arrived at each of the eight points that he listed down, but it is believed that he based his arguments on what the Bible says about certain human behaviors and how they come to be.

– With time, Ponticus’s ideas spread through the monastery and other regions. The term deadly sin was first used in the 6th century when Pope Gregory I re-wrote the ideas that Ponticus had earlier postulated. 

  • Saint Gregory the Great

– Saint Gregory the Great tried to explain the consequences that would befall those who committed the seven capital vices. 

– Being the bishop at that time, Gregory I played a crucial role in ensuring the adherents of the early Roman Catholic Church understood the meaning of each cardinal sin.

  • St. Thomas Aquinas

-St. Thomas Aquinas redrafted Ponticus’s list by removing and adding some of the elements that he deemed fit for the Catholic Church.

– As Aquinas states in his book, The Summa Theologica, “The capital vices are those which give rise to others, especially by way of final cause”

  • Geoffrey Chaucer

– The teachings of the seven cardinal vices gained popularity after Geoffrey Chaucer published the revised list in his book, The Canterbury Tales, during the 14th century.

Catholicism: Rundown of the 7 Deadly Sins

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the seven capital sins based on the Bible teachings that they oppose.

1. Pride

  • According to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas about the seven deadly sins, all sins are a manifestation of pride.
  • Those who are proud have an excessive view and love of self. They often view other people as less important and attribute their achievements to their efforts and not God.
  • Catholics have different Bible verses that prove God does like those who are overly proud. Also, the church teaches that the only way to overcome pride is by being humble. One of such teachings can be found in the book of James 4:6-10.

2. Lust

  • Lust is a psychological phenomenon that drives an individual to have an excessive desire to own or have something.
  • When explaining lust, Catholicism views it as the desire for sexual pleasures. As such, adherents are required to treat members of the opposite sex with the utmost respect.
  • That being said, viewing other people as mere sex objects can cause one to commit the sin of lust.
  • In the book of Matthew 5:28, the Bible states that “….anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
  • This clearly shows how capital sins can give rise to other sins. In this case, adultery, which is a sin on its own, has come about as a result of lust.
  • Catholics believe that chastity can overcome all forms of lust.

3. Greed

  • Geed, also known as avarice is the uncontrolled desire to gain material things.
  • Catholicism and other denominations under Christianity teach that greed can impact how one relates with God and the church.
  • Those who are controlled by greed pay more attention to how they can get more wealth, meaning they don’t have time to serve God or grow spiritually.
  • Catholicism teaches its members that the only way they can avoid greed is by being content. Besides, the Bible encourages Christians to be content with whatever they have as highlighted in the book of Hebrews 13:5.

4. Gluttony

  • Gluttony refers to the overconsumption of edibles and alcohol. Catholics believe that overeating or overdrinking is a sin against God and the church.
  • Moreover, the church encourages its members to have good eating habits as this will help them avoid the sin of gluttony.
  • Catholics and other denominations use the book of Proverbs 23:19-21 to teach adherents that God is against gluttony of all kinds. As such, Catholics are taught to practice temperance when handling alcoholic drinks and food.

5. Wrath/Anger

  • Anger or wrath can be defined as being hostile towards other people. It can come about when someone wrongs you or does something that you don’t like.
  • The Catholic Church classifies anger as a cardinal sin because it can give rise to other sins such as murder, theft, revenge, etc.
  • In addition to this, God instructs members of the church to refrain from anger since it leads to evil (Psalm 37:8).
  • Through the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church encourages adherents to be meek when they find themselves in anger-triggering situations.

6. Envy

  • Envy is the unexplained desire to have something that belongs to another person. This can be material possessions, skills, jobs, etc.
  • Catholics use Bible teachings like that of Cain and Abel to explain how envy can give rise to jealousy and murder. In this story, Cain killed his brother because he envied the sacrifices that Abel was giving to God.
  • One of the main teachings on envy used throughout Christianity is found in the book of Proverbs 14:30. The verse shows how God views those who are envious of other people.
  • Besides, the Bible teaches that Lucifer envied God’s creation, and that is why he was cast out of heaven.
  • Having love for one another and being content are some of the effective ways through which Catholics overcome envy.

7. Sloth

  • Sloth or acedia can be termed as the inability to perform certain religious tasks due to laziness. 
  • In the Catholic Church, it can be used to describe people who postpone prayer or those who fail to attend mass without any valid reason.
  • Various books in the Bible show that God does not like it when people become lazy. These references can be found in Proverbs 12:24, Colossians 3:23, and many more.

Final Verdict

Catholicism teaches that the 7 deadly sins should be avoided by all means since they cut off members of the church from God. Additionally, the Catholic Church encourages adherents to avoid situations that may cause them to engage in capital vices.

Also, all seven cardinal sins can give rise to other sins, and that is exactly why the Catholic Church teaches its members how they can counter each sin before it manifests into another.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Catholic Priests Absolve Deadly Sins?

Through the sacrament of penance, the pope allows catholic priests to remit mortal sins.

Is There an Unforgivable Sin in the Catholic Church?

Catholicism teaches that the only unforgivable sin is dying without confessing mortal sins.

Can Priest Forgive Sins Without Contrition?

According to Catholic teachings, there is no absolution without contrition.