Author Topic: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin  (Read 6781 times)

Offline Ambrose

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« on: January 17, 2011, 11:30:48 pm »
Pre-Vatican 2 eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin.  Post V2 it is not.  How can something that was a mortal sin stop being so?  My difficulty is not whether it is or is not but that something that was a mortal sin stopped being so.  It implies that a person who ate meat on Friday a few days before the change would have committed a mortal sin and possibly gone to hell while his brother who did the same thing a few days later would not.

This change makes it difficult to believe the Church in matters of mortal sin. 

And in case someone would wonder, no I'm not a sedevacantist, ultra-traditional, etc.

Online David W. Emery

  • Forum Moderator
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 12:47:53 am »
Quote
How can something that was a mortal sin stop being so? My difficulty is not whether it is or is not but that something that was a mortal sin stopped being so.

The sinful act was not that of eating meat, but that of disobedience to the command of the bishops. Once the bishops decided that they would no longer command “under pain of sin,” which they have the power to do, the faithful were released from that level of obligation. This change came about in the year 1968 and was confirmed by the bishops of the U.S. in the year 2000. Nevertheless, the command to do penance on a weekly basis still exists and appears in canon law. Disregarding it will not improve one’s chances of salvation.

David

Offline Candlemass

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1135
  • Christian
    • View Profile
    • www.myspace.com/fragilegothband
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 01:06:16 am »
This is a problem I'm begining to see, almost everything done under "pain of hell", or "pain of sin", odd way of cultivating love for God and neighbor.  :-\
"I don't care if you Catholic or Baptist, you christian, right? Practice your faith!" -- Fr. Corapi

Offline DrDave

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 820
  • Catholic since I was 10 (Days that is)
    • View Profile
    • The Aussie Apologist
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 01:43:43 am »
Hi Ambrose, I suspect that part of the problem lies in how we often use the language. Very often we use a kind of shorthand way of phrasing things to express some rather complex ideas. This is useful when we're speaking with someone who shares the same understandings and preconceptions, yet if we say the same words to one who doesn't share that understanding, our words can be completely misinterpreted. The idea of it being a 'Mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays' is one such shorthand.

First off, Mortal sin requires knowlege and intent (as well as grave or serious matter). Even pre-Vatican II if one accidentally grabbed a ham sandwich (instead of tuna) out of the freezer on the way to work, and bit into it at lunch time without realising their mistake, that wasn't a mortal sin, because of lack of intent. The shorthand way of expressing the doctrine assumes all this knowlege, and without it, can be misleading.

More often these days you'll find people telling you that something is a 'grave sin' rather than a mortal sin, not because they're meaning different things by those two expressions, but because they now realise that many people don't share that understanding required for the shorthand way of explaining things to make sense.

The same applies to what David said about the nature of the sin. The eating or not eating of meat had nothing to do with WHY it was a sin, but the why is assumed in the shorthand.

Regards
NB: 'DrDave' is a nickname from college not an indication of academic achievement.

Offline Free

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 806
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 06:29:22 am »
Quote
David Emery said: "The sinful act was not that of eating meat, but that of disobedience to the command of the bishops. Once the bishops decided that they would no longer command “under pain of sin,” which they have the power to do, the faithful were released from that level of obligation."

This ties scripturally with Jesus' declaration to Peter and the Apostles, that they would have the authority to bind and loose on earth and it would also be recognized in heaven (see Matt. 16:18 and Matt. 18:18).  The bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and so have the authority to decide these questions on earth, an authority bestowed by Jesus.

~~JANE:  Raised in a liberal Presbyterian Church; agnostic and then Gnostic for many years; then Methodist; then Presbyterian; then non-denominational; finally, Catholic.

Online David W. Emery

  • Forum Moderator
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 07:32:04 am »
Quote from: Candlemass
This is a problem I'm beginning to see, almost everything done under "pain of hell", or "pain of sin", odd way of cultivating love for God and neighbor.

First, let’s get real here. Not even close to “everything” is placed “under pain of sin.” And the phrase “under pain of hell” is never used, because sin can always be forgiven when a person repents.

Second, being a disciple of Christ necessarily involves discipline. Here is what Scripture says about it:

Quote from: Hebrews 12:3–13
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? —

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Friday abstinence (which is the topic of this thread) is an example of our discipline, and it goes all the way back to the beginning of Christianity. This discipline is designed to help us gain control over our appetites and reduce our dependence on the pleasure principle to motivate us, especially in our relationships with others, as we honor Christ’s own loving self-sacrifice on our behalf.

How does this negate true love for God and neighbor? On the contrary, it promotes that love by recalling to us the fact that self-will is not the Christian way of life, that we must instead adhere to the love we profess for God and neighbor by sacrificing that will for their sake, just as Jesus sacrificed his will that night in the garden when he accepted the cross for our sake.

David

Offline Candlemass

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1135
  • Christian
    • View Profile
    • www.myspace.com/fragilegothband
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 08:17:34 am »
Just about as soon as I posted that, that very passage in Hebrews came to mind!  :-X

Then last night right before going to bed I stumbled across this;

"My son, while you are well, govern your appitite so that you not allow it what is bad for you. For not every food is good for everyone, nor is everything suited to every taste. Be not drawn after every enjoyment, neither become a glutton for choice foods. For sickness comes w/overeating, and gluttony brings on biliouness. Through lack of self-controll many have died, but the abstemious man prolongs his life." -- Sirach 37:26-30

 :-[
"I don't care if you Catholic or Baptist, you christian, right? Practice your faith!" -- Fr. Corapi

Online David W. Emery

  • Forum Moderator
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2011, 09:26:40 am »
Then you have found the handle.

I mentioned that the rule of Friday fasting “goes all the way back to the beginning of Christianity.” Jesus said in Matthew 9:15 and parallels that Christians would fast when he, the Bridegroom, is taken away (when his earthly life is ended). Devout Jews fasted twice a week (see Luke 18:12 as an example of this); Christians would not repudiate the practice. For instance, in the Didache, a first century Christian document, we find the words: “You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays” (8.1). The current Latin Rite practice of abstinence from flesh meat on Fridays is minor in comparison to the older practice.

David

Offline Pani Rose

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1645
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2011, 11:16:20 am »
Just about as soon as I posted that, that very passage in Hebrews came to mind!  :-X

Then last night right before going to bed I stumbled across this;

"My son, while you are well, govern your appitite so that you not allow it what is bad for you. For not every food is good for everyone, nor is everything suited to every taste. Be not drawn after every enjoyment, neither become a glutton for choice foods. For sickness comes w/overeating, and gluttony brings on biliouness. Through lack of self-controll many have died, but the abstemious man prolongs his life." -- Sirach 37:26-30

 :-[

Very good!

I was just praying about this, not the Scripture, but the concept last night, and repenting for times that I have allowed gluttony to creep in through the years past.  Amazed at how God has literally changed what I eat and how I eat.  As a 'senior citizen' I can understand the joys of a cup of tea with some honey and lemon, how much better it is than the glasses of soda pop I consumed as a young adult.  How this government in changing our foods from sugar to corn syrup, increased our consumption and desire in this country for sweets, by increasing in what we thought was healthy foods the carbs we consumed.  We as a nation have been blinded, but we as a nation can alway see clearly again if we will turn away from what the world proclaims as good, and see as in the Scripture you posted above that God says of his Word and his ways.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love.   (Zephaniah 3:17)

Pani Rose

Online David W. Emery

  • Forum Moderator
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2011, 02:08:53 pm »
Quote
How this government in changing our foods from sugar to corn syrup, increased our consumption and desire in this country for sweets, by increasing in what we thought was healthy foods the carbs we consumed.

Rose, I don’t understand how government regulation of the type of sugar used in certain foods would have any bearing at all on one’s individual problem with gluttony. Soda pop a healthy food? Ahem.

As a diabetic, I don’t ingest any significant amounts of sugar, regardless of type. But that in itself neither expands nor contracts my girth, and there are plenty of other ways to pack on the pounds. Besides, if one has any health consciousness at all, there are plenty of foods on the market that contain no corn syrup at all. Like the water that I drink almost exclusively.

I’ve found that holy people are generally happy, healthy people. Maybe that’s the meaning of the passage in Scripture that says, “The fear of the Lord delights the heart, and gives gladness and joy and long life” (Sirach 1:12).

David

Offline Proverb16:7

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1121
  • Cradle Catholic
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2011, 07:50:15 pm »
David,


What may have been overlooked here is the intent of the bishops when they changed the Binding and Loosing ruling.

Luke 12:29a, 31a,34 "And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink" "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice,"  "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

The Bishops in their document sought to give some guidance to the purpose of the fasting and abstaining in the first place.  In giving alternatives to the NO_MEAT, they tried to re-focus the faithfuls practices as Luke's passages guide us to contemplate, where is our treasure?   In the food or drink?  Or is our treasure in The fear of the Lord and his kingdom?

There were many other references to this line of thinking in the documents as I recall, though my memory is not as great as It once was, It was a point of contemplation as I too once struggled with "How come so-in - so eats meat on friday ... they are catholic too!"  As You pointed out it was not the MEAT that was the point, rather the self sacrifice and the self-discipline of the disciple and trying to follow the masters own example in the Garden.

Just something that struck me as I read the threads development.  
Your Servant In Christ
David S

Semper Fidelis Opere et Veritate
 (Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere)
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings. I am a sojourner in the land

Offline Proverb16:7

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1121
  • Cradle Catholic
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2011, 08:29:56 pm »
One other thing with those documents were that the changes in the societies dietary norms.

 Where meat once held greater significance in the diet, now dietary choices have changed and the consumption of meat is not as significant in the choices of the faithful.  The Bishops have given more choices to offer fasting and other methods of fulfilling the requirements of NOT eating meat!

While Not eating meat is now an option and other substitutions may fulfill the requirements the obligations remain for friday abstinence.
Your Servant In Christ
David S

Semper Fidelis Opere et Veritate
 (Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere)
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings. I am a sojourner in the land

Offline Ambrose

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2011, 09:19:28 pm »
Quote
David Emery said: "The sinful act was not that of eating meat, but that of disobedience to the command of the bishops. Once the bishops decided that they would no longer command “under pain of sin,” which they have the power to do, the faithful were released from that level of obligation."

This ties scripturally with Jesus' declaration to Peter and the Apostles, that they would have the authority to bind and loose on earth and it would also be recognized in heaven (see Matt. 16:18 and Matt. 18:18).  The bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and so have the authority to decide these questions on earth, an authority bestowed by Jesus.

I'm going to make an extreme hypothetical example to make sure I understand your point.  From what you've said it sounds as though the bishops could say that in Mar 2011 if you deliberately and with full knowledge and free will, etc. eat meat then it's a mortal sin.  However, in April it will not be but in Jun it will be again.  You seem to be saying the literal "whatever" they decide so (though of course highly unlikely) in this scenario it would be true.

Offline Ambrose

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 09:24:13 pm »
Quote
How can something that was a mortal sin stop being so? My difficulty is not whether it is or is not but that something that was a mortal sin stopped being so.

The sinful act was not that of eating meat, but that of disobedience to the command of the bishops. Once the bishops decided that they would no longer command “under pain of sin,” which they have the power to do, the faithful were released from that level of obligation...David

I'm fairly sure there are areas of disobedience to a bishop that are not "under pain of sin" -- locally for instance the bishop has decided the faithful are to stand right after the agnes dei.  Many disobey because their whole lives they have knelt.

Are you really saying that the Church teaches that a bishop can arbitrarily say that one area of disobedience is mortal (yes, with the full knowledge, full intent, etc.) while another is not?  And then hypothetically change his mind the very next week much as the bishops have changed the eating meat on Friday (with full consent...) being mortal?

Offline Proverb16:7

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1121
  • Cradle Catholic
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 09:35:25 pm »
Greetings Ambrose,

It is true the bishops have this authority, however they use this authority to Shepard the flocks under their care.  It is for the good of the flock that they exercise this authority and their spiritual health that they make these choices. 

They do not make these choices arbitrarily but rather deliberate the ramifications and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit make pronouncements that will guide their faithful to heaven ultimately.  It is not a frivolous decision they make bowing to the winds of the prevailing culture.
Your Servant In Christ
David S

Semper Fidelis Opere et Veritate
 (Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere)
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings. I am a sojourner in the land

Online David W. Emery

  • Forum Moderator
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2011, 10:10:45 pm »
Quote
I'm going to make an extreme hypothetical example to make sure I understand your point. From what you've said it sounds as though the bishops could say that in Mar 2011 if you deliberately and with full knowledge and free will, etc. eat meat then it's a mortal sin. However, in April it will not be but in Jun it will be again. You seem to be saying the literal "whatever" they decide so (though of course highly unlikely) in this scenario it would be true.

Yes, Ambrose, that hypothetical is rather extreme. It represents the bishops as “playing around” with their powers. This is something that simply will not happen because the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy will step in and put a stop to it. It is an abuse of the office. Furthermore, because it is a liturgical function reserved to Rome, local regulations deviating from the general norms governing fasting are set by conferences of bishops, not by individual bishops, and they must be ratified by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments before they can take effect.

In the case of no meat on Friday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (then called the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) established its particular norm once, in 1968, and has not changed it since. So it has been in effect, unchanged, for over 40 years. The norm was clarified in 2000 to make it clear that the Latin Rite’s universal norm and obligation are still in effect, but that outside of Lent there are added options, and the norm, as officially changed, is not binding under pain of sin. This applies to the United States only, according to the jurisdiction of the bishops establishing the norm. It still had to be ratified by the Vatican (which it was) before it could take effect.

The Church’s rules are not arbitrary. Bishops’ choices are limited by canon law, and many of them are subject to Vatican approval as well. The Church’s law is set up take care the majority of cases and is interpreted and enforced by the the central offices. And you are forgetting that the Church is not a purely human society, but is guided by the Holy Spirit. The faithful will not be “sold down the river” because God won’t allow it.

Quote
I'm fairly sure there are areas of disobedience to a bishop that are not "under pain of sin" -- locally for instance the bishop has decided the faithful are to stand right after the agnes dei.  Many disobey because their whole lives they have knelt.

This is a delicate situation because there happens to be no Church law that specifically says an individual bishop cannot set a norm such as this for his diocese. However, the Vatican has also pronounced that the faithful cannot be bound to such a norm under pain of sin because it is contrary to the established practice for the entire Rite.

So in both of the instances you cite, there is no sin attached to disobedience. And one way or another, abuse of power in the Church will be nullified by the rules already in place or through an overruling by the pope or the Vatican’s central authority.

David

Offline Jesus_123

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Eating meat no longer a mortal sin
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2011, 10:33:45 pm »
+"Perhaps it might help just a bit in this dialogue to gain a little more insight into the subject of fasting and Friday fasting in the Catholic Church re Sacred Scripture and Canon Law in particular . . . the following are portions from an excellent article from Catholic Apologist Colin Donavan the link for which is listed below . . . it also might be helpful to consider that . . . Bishops . . . per se . . . are rather far down on the line of authority re Magesterial  teaching and Church law in regard to the subject of fasting in the Apostolic Holy Roman Catholic Church . . . 

Quote
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
- Colin B. Donavan, STL

Quote
"It is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance, without which the Christian is unlikely to remain on the narrow path and be saved

Quote
(Jer. 18:11, 25:5; Ez. 18:30, 33:11-15; Joel 2:12; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 4:17; Acts 2:38).

Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). The general law of penance, therefore, is part of the law of God for man.

The Church for her part has specified certain forms of penance, both to ensure that the Catholic will do something, as required by divine law, while making it easy for Catholics to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics [Eastern Rite Catholics have their own penitential practices as specified by the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches].

Quote
Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Canon 1253 It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

The Church, therefore, has two forms of official penitential practices - three if the Eucharistic fast of one hour before Communion is included.

Abstinence  The law of abstinence REQUIRES a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

... On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. They must do some penitential/charitable practice on these Fridays. For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. ..."

Link:  http://www.catholic.org/clife/lent/abfast.php

The above referenced article is one of the best comprehensive summaries I've encountered on this subject . . . hope it helps . . .

. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+
. . . thank you Blessed Virgin Mary+
. . . thank you Holy Mother Church+
. . . Sacred Heart of Jesus+
. . . please pray for us+