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Brian Garrett wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question is a simple but long one.

Two Catholics I know are sleeping (having sex) together. Every time thy get caught by friends and family they (she) says, it's not happening, it's none of our business, and not to tell her boyfriend. This has been going on for well over a year now. Both have partners. She has been with hers for over ten plus years and he has been on and off with several women.

According to her because she goes to church and asks for forgiveness and the preacher gives it to her every time (weekly) she is not doing anything wrong, has nothing to worry about, and because the preacher is forgiving her, ergo, she is not committing a sin and does not have to answer to her boyfriend of ten plus years.

According to him, because she is only living with her boyfriend and is not Church-married, it's not a sin. Also according to him, he can sleep (have sex) with any woman (married or not) he likes because all he has to do is forgive himself and under dogma law, God will forgive him because he wants to become a Catholic preacher, ergo, he is not committing a sin.

The way I see it, is that the both of them are breaking the Commandments because, in Australia, if you live together as husband and wife for over a year (as she has for over ten plus years now) then under Australian law, you are in a defacto Marriage and under the law this is the same as being marred in a church and in the Bible we are told to follow the laws of the land. (Romans 13:1-2)

Brian

  { Do two Catholics who are having sex with different people have a correct notion of forgiveness? }

Eric replied:

Brian,

Your friends are deluded. Part of asking for forgiveness (receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation) is resolving not to commit the sin again. You cannot legitimately receive absolution (forgiveness) if you intend to commit the sin again. You can't just go on like nothing happened and keep receiving forgiveness for a sin you plan on continuing to commit; that's a sacrilege and I'm surprised the priest has not called him or her on it. There is a part of the sacrament where one expresses one's contrition (sorrow for sin); in the traditional prayer for this, it says, I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. This is where you resolve not to sin again.

  • If someone kept knowingly and deliberately doing something to offend you, and asked forgiveness each time, but made no apparent effort to change what they were doing, is that apology sincere and would you continue to forgive them?

It's one thing to intend not to sin again and then in weakness to fall into sin repeatedly; it's quite another to never intend to reform one's life and use the Sacrament of Reconciliation as an excuse to go on sinning. I repeat; this is a sacrilege, and also the sin of presumption (deliberately committing a sin expecting to be forgiven of it in the future).

Living with a partner and having sex with them without benefit of a Church marriage (regardless of Australian law) is a sin as well for Catholics.

Normally, this is a sin for anyone but I'm unsure how this works with common law marriages, once established. It would definitely be a sin before the law recognized you as married — afterward, I am not sure, but Catholics need to have a church wedding to be married in the eyes of God so your friends are committing very grave sins on two levels.

Eric

Bob replied:

Brian,

Your acquaintances are in sin, that is apparent. They are not married in the Church, and are committing fornication and adultery.

  • Is there a question you have?

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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