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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

I Keep Hearing about “Social Sin” and “Structural Sin.” Whatever Happened to Personal Sin?

Question:

I keep hearing about "social sin" and "structural sin." Whatever happened to personal sin

Answer:

Nothing. Unfortunately, it’s alive and well. The Church hasn’t abandoned the idea we commit personal sins. “Social sin” and “structural sin” are legitimate terms, but shouldn’t be interpreted as negating personal accountability.

In his encyclical on social justice, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II says “social sin” or “structural sin” proceeds from the accumulation of personal sins. It is, says the Pope, “a question of a moral evil, the fruit of many sins which lead to ‘structures of sin.'”

Since the source of “social sin” or “structural sin” is personal sin, the solution to it rests with our personal actions. We must do more than change “the system,” as important as that may be. We must change ourselves.

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