Dear Father Angelo,
I would like to ask for clarification on some points..
1. As the theological view is focused on the primacy of the Incarnate Word (not only as God) where – all things were created through Him and for Him-which is believed to have always been present in God’s plan; is it correct to think that the unity of Mankind in Adam (in which all human beings are something like one man) had been a premise or a prophecy of that unity of Mankind in Christ that God had intended to realize?
2. I have read that, by virtue of the communion of saints, one can fulfill satisfactory punishment for another, that is, one can take on the temporal punishment deserved by another (while still living) to lessen the other person’s punishments in Purgatory. In what sense, then, does responsibility remain personal?
3. I have read that lack of forgiveness is a mortal sin, but to what extent? Should it be considered a mortal sin only when one has in mind to make someone pay causing him or her serious harm, or is it already a mortal sin to clearly exclude people from one’s life by not speaking to them anymore, or similar things?
4. In order not to suffer in vain, is it sufficient for a person belonging to another religion to be a good soul and to abandon himself to Someone Above, in the way his religion allows him? And what if one has not the possibility to confess his sins because of his religious beliefs?
Thank you and best regards. May God bless you always.
The Priest’s reply
I will answer by the following points according to the matter contained in your questions.
1. Yes, the first Adam is a type or a prefiguration of the new Adam, that is, of Christ.
Adam’s sin was not the sin of any other man, but that of the progenitor of the human race. For this reason, its consequences (man’s corrupt nature) spread to all men.
Similarly, the grace of Christ, the new Adam and Head of redeemed humanity, pours out on all men.
2.Here is how Saint John Mary Vianney, the Holy Curé of Ars, used to manage the matter when speaking about great sinners:
Nevertheless, one thing is responsibility for sin, which always remains personal, another thing is paying for its consequences.
After all, did not Jesus Christ deserve (pay for) all this in our place?
Let me give you an example: a certain person is fined after committing a traffic violation.
The only one guilty of the violation is the person who committed it.
But can I pay the fine for him because I am his friend? Yes, obviously. Atonement for another’s sins is even more legitimate from a theological perspective. Because of charity we are indeed one body in Christ. (Ro 12:5).
3. Lack of forgiveness is not always a mortal sin. It also depends on the matter.
Furthermore, giving forgiveness is not the same as regaining friendship or reinstating someone.
When there are people who have proven to be unreliable – as for example due to incompetence in the workplace – there is no point in restoring them to their previous position.
Granting forgiveness does not mean excluding people from one’s love in Christ and from one’s prayer and it also does not mean harbouring a grudge or thirst for revenge.
Sometimes forgiveness could also be accompanied by an initial outward detachment in the relationship to make it clear that one has remained sorry.
Conversation and greeting should never be denied, though.
4. In order not to suffer in vain to have eternal life, suffering must be accompanied by the Grace of God. The criterion to use is not to evaluate goodness, as we can judge it, but Grace. Many people are good and yet they can be in mortal sin.
It is true that those belonging to other religions do not have the Sacraments, which are the ordinary ways and means of Grace.
However, God, who wants to save all men, gives his sanctifying Grace also through other ways that we do not know. They are the so-called extraordinary ways of Grace.
Therefore, if those belonging to other religions commit mortal sins, in order to restore the state of Grace, they must sincerely repent of their sins. That is, they need to desire not to have committed their sins and should also have the desire to do everything that should be done to be forgiven.
The desire for sacramental confession is implicitly included here.
As a matter of fact, they will not properly confess their sins because they do not know that God has commanded them to do so. But by acting in good faith they are forgiven by virtue of the implicit desire they have, because if they knew they certainly would.
I thank you for the questions, I entrust you to God and I bless you.