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Dear Father Angelo,

I’m writing you again and I thank you so much for the answers you provided me on my previous questions regarding Peter’s successor and the remodelling of Our Father. Your website is beautiful because there are answers to so many questions, even the most difficult from a religious point of view and this is the reason why I’m writing you again, because I care about your answer on what I’m going to ask you now. You may reply privately or on the website, as you prefer. I want to briefly tell you that I always was a believer in the past but I didn’t attend sacraments, church and church life for some time. Now (thanks to the Miraculous Medal but this is another topic) I’m back after decades to confession (which I try to do once a month), to attend mass, to Holy Communion, to prayer (even if here I’m unstable, but present). I ask you, the Magisterium of Church – and you too have always reiterated it here – teaches the importance of the sixth commandment and I have also read on various websites about the famous vision of St. John Bosco on impurities and the danger of ending up in Hell (even young people who had committed only that sin were damned!). It is of these days the “news” of Pope Francis who clearly said that it doesn’t matter so much that commandment, but not to slander others. I heard this from a priest also during Mass last Sunday in a Marian Sanctuary. Then I ask, apart from the truthfulness of backbiting, this commandment is in fact downgraded in its importance or is it still binding (because it seems to me that there is a certain confusion in the Church in these times. I think it is still very important and we can’t even say: “Pope Francis said so, but he wanted to say instead…” because I assure you that while listening to people I know, friends and so on, many – if not the majority of them – say: “So now we can do it”. This is what believers understand. Why all this ambiguous talk from the Holy Father? Or, maybe, is the Church trying to take new paths? Such as, for example, the famous “interpretation” on giving Holy Communion to divorced people, a problem raised from various ecclesiastical sectors (doubt with no answer yet). My questions or my uncertainty come from my love for Christ and the Church and from the danger of some acts or actions and forgive me for being maybe a little too much “fundamentalist”.

I thank You in advance, I pray for You and I ask You to bless me and my family please.

Kind regards,


Answer from Father Angelo

Dear Luca,

1. It is not only the Magisterium of Church or St. John Bosco who says that the sins of impurity are serious and therefore they exclude from the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is the same divine Revelation. In other words: God said so.

2. Here  is where: “Do not be deceived: neither the fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminates, nor sodomites… will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6,9-10); “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry and things like these; I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal 5,19-21); “For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure, or greedy person… has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ef 5,5).

3. The Magisterium of the Church in turn affirmed that: “According to the Christian tradition and the doctrine of the Church, and also as right reason recognizes, the moral order of sexuality entails such high values for human life that any direct violation of this order is objectively serious” (Declaration Persona humana 10).

4. Of course among these sins, there are some that are more serious sins than others. But the starting point is the same: it is a matter that is objectively always serious. So the fact that some sins are more serious than others does not justify those that are less serious. Even St. Thomas recalls that adultery is more serious than fornication because it also adds injustice towards the married person to whom one belongs and to whom one has promised fidelity to the gravity of fornication. But the lesser gravity compared to adultery does not justify fornication. “The sin of fornication consists in the fact that a man approaches a woman who is not his; but if we add the circumstance that the woman he approaches is the wife of another man, we pass to another kind of sin, that is, we pass to an injustice, since it comes to usurp someone else’s goods. Therefore adultery is a graver sin than fornication” (Summary of Theology,  I-II, 73, 7).

5. The theological motivation for the malice of the sins of lust is due “to the fact that with lust one abuses one’s body and insults the Lord, who is the chief master of our bodies. Hence the words of St. Augustine: “The Lord, who governs his servants for their benefit and not for his own, has commanded this, so that with illicit pleasures his temple, which you have begun to be, may not collapse” (Sermo 9,10)” (Summary of Theology,  II-II, 153, 3, ad 2). Also because it remains true that “from a certain point of view, the sin of impurity is the one that more than any other makes the man indisposed to receive the Eucharist, since by this sin more than for any other the spirit is subjected to the flesh, so that the fervor of charity is impeded which is required in this sacrament” (Ib., III, 80, 5, ad 2).

6. Given that the impurity sins are serious of their own, it is not said that they are the most serious. St. Thomas makes the statement of St. Gregory who teaches that “carnal sins are less serious than spiritual sins” his own (Moralia 33,12). Pope Francis wanted to say this. That he wanted to diminish the gravity of the sins of lust, such as pedophilia, adultery, rape, sodomy… it is definitely going beyond what his words meant. Slander, which is a spiritual sin, is a grave sin. It is so serious that it is not put back until there is a willingness to repair it. 

7. However, what you reported remains: “I assure you that while listening to people I know, friends and so on, many – if not the majority of them – say: “So now we can make it”. This is what believers understand”. 

8. You are right, because newspapers wrote it more or less. So much so that Vatican news felt the need to point out: “What the Pope did not say about the sins of gluttony and lust” entitling this way the paragraph: “Twisted words: it happened again with what Pope Francis said during a dialogue with Jesuits in Africa”. Then it adds: “The various “translations” appeared in these days of the Pope’s words addressed to the Jesuits in Mozambique published by Catholic Civilization on September 26th deserve reflection”. And it is written: “Many people celebrated these words, shouting general self-absolution. One newspaper reported, with quotation marks, that Pope Francis said that “gluttony and lust are not serious sins”. In reality, on the text reported by Chatolic Civilization  the Pope says “less serious”, therefore, unfortunately for everyone, always “serious”. Other newspapers have been more cautious in quotation marks and have freely “translated” the Pope’s thought with “they are not so serious sins”. Another newspaper got caught up in enthusiasm and it named the article: the Pope would have said “Lust is not a sin”. Then somebody must have felt that, said it that way, it was excessively imaginative, so the title was changed, but the trace remains on Google. The text of the report, however, reiterates it and quotes sentences never uttered by the Pope: “Gluttony and lust are not sins. Or, at least, they are not among the most serious”. A reflection deserves the habit of simplifying and unfortunately manipulating the truth. A phenomenon that, despite the rush of every day, must push us to the effort of verifying the sources before issuing judgements”. This is what Vatican news reports and it corresponds perfectly to what you wrote.

9. There is still a problem: why transcribe and publish these words spoken by the Pope in familiar language within a conversation that is, after all, private with the Jesuits of that area? One wonders: those who published them were so little clever they didn’t understand that those words would have been immediately distorted with such devastating effects in people’s thinking? Pope Francis says rightly we must have the smell of sheep. One is almost forced to agree with those who said that someone seems to have neither the smell nor the care of sheep at this point.

I wish you all the best on your path of Christian life, I remember you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo

Translated by Rossella Silvestri