Youcat for Aleteia
Are there sins that are so serious that not even the average priest can forgive them?
There are sins in which a man turns completely away from God and at the same time, because of the seriousness of the deed, incurs -> EXCOMMUNICATION. When a sin results in “excommunication”, absolution can be granted only by the -> BISHOP or a -> PRIEST delegated by him, and, in few cases, only by the -> POPE. In danger of death, any priest can absolve every sin and excommunication. 
A catholic who commits murder, for example, or cooperates in an abortion automatically excludes himself from sacramental communion; the Church simply acknowledges this fact. The purpose of “excommunication” is to correct the sinner and to lead him back to the right path.
May we do something bad so that good can result from it?
No, we may never deliberately do something evil or tolerate an evil so that good can result from it. Sometimes there is no other course of action but to tolerate a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater evil. [1755-1756, 1759- 1761]
The end does not justify the means. It cannot be right to commit infidelity so as to stabilize one’s marriage. It is just as wrong to use embryos for stem cell research, even if one could thereby make breakthroughs. It is wrong to try to “help” a rape victim by aborting her child.
What sorts of attacks on human life are forbidden by the Fifth Commandment?
Murder and acting as an accomplice to murder are forbidden. Killing unarmed civilians during a way is forbidden. The abortion of a human being, from the moment of conception on, is forbidden. Suicide, self-mutilation, and self- destructive behavior are forbidden. Euthanasia- killing the handicapped, the sick, and the dying-is also forbidden. [2268-2283, 2322-2325]
Today people often try to get around the Fifth Commandment with seemingly humane arguments. But neither euthanasia nor abortion is a humane solution. That is why the Church is perfectly clear on these questions. Whoever participates in abortion, forces a woman to undergo an abortion, or merely advises her to do so is automatically excommunicated-just as with other crimes against human life. If a psychologically ill person commits suicide, responsibility for the act of killing is often diminished and in many cases completely annulled.
Why is abortion unacceptable at any phase in the development of an embryo?
God-given human life is God’s own property; it is sacred from the first moment of its existence and not under the control of any human being. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5). [2270-2274, 2322]
God alone is Lord over life and death. Not even “my” life belongs to me. Every child, from the moment of conception on, has a right to life. From his earliest beginnings an unborn human being is a separate person, and no one can infringe upon his rights, not the State, not the doctor, and not even the mother. The Church’s clarity about this is not a lack of compassion; she means, rather, to point out the irreparable harm that is inflicted on the child who is killed in abortion and on his parents and on society as a whole. Protecting innocent human life is one of the noblest tasks of the State. If a State evades this responsibility, it undermines the foundations of a rule of law.
Why are all methods of preventing the conception of a child not equally good?
The Church recommends the refined methods of self-observation and natural family planning (NFP) as methods of deliberately regulating conception. These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love. [2370-2372, 2399]
The Church pays careful attention to the order of nature and sees in it a deep meaning. For her it is therefore not a matter of indifference whether a couple manipulates the woman’s fertility or instead makes use of the natural alternation of fertile and infertile days. It is no accident that -> NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING is called natural: it is ecological, holistic, healthy, and an exercise in partnership. On the other hand, the Church rejects all artificial means of contraception- namely, chemical methods (“the Pill”), mechanical methods (for example, condom, intra- uterine device, or IUD), and surgical methods (sterilization)- since these attempt to separate the sexual act from its procreative potential and block the total self- giving of husband and wife. Such methods can even endanger the woman’s health, have an abortifacient effect (= cause a very early abortion), and in the long run be detrimental to the couple’s love life.
Can you pray anywhere?
Yes, you can pray anywhere. Nevertheless a Catholic will always look also for those places where God “dwells” in a special way. Above all these are Catholic churches, where our Lord is present in the -> TABERNACLE under the appearance of bread. [2691, 2696]
It is very important for us to pray everywhere: in school, on the subways, during a party, in the midst of our friends. The whole world has to be drenched with -> BLESSINGS. But it is also important for us to visit sacred places, where God waits for us, so to speak, so that we can rest in his presence, be strengthened, replenished, and sent forth by him. A genuine Christian is never just sightseeing when he visits a church. He lingers a moment in silence, adores God, and renews his friendship and love for him.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?