Mortal Sin

Hello I am Roman Catholic and interested in converting to Eastern Orthodoxy.  A lot of my issues for me are over sin and mortal sin in the sense that for me there is always the fear looming that if you die in mortal sin you are condemned to hell, especially when even thoughts can be in the categorize of being mortally sinful, which I do not want to believe is true in the roman catholic way of categorizing sin/mortal sin.   However my main and yet simple Question is, does Eastern Orthodoxy believe in similarity to Roman Catholicism that if one doesn’t confess their sins/mortal sins before death then they will go to hell?


From a previous answer: The difference of emphasis between Roman Catholicism and Orthodox on the topic of mortal/venial sin is what St John meant by “sin unto death.” The Western/Latin tradition often focused on the legal determination or classification of “sin unto death” (“mortal sin” – essentially a Scriptural expression) and “sin not unto death” (“venial sin”). The Orthodox tradition which tends to be more experiential and pastoral does not so much try to classify every sin legally as to determine the state of the spiritual life of a Christian: if a sin has been committed and this person needs forgiveness and healing, this is what the emphasis is on with the idea of the Church as a hospital (the “inn” in the parable of the Good Samaritan). Sin unto death is comparable to the second death of Revelation 20/21; it is a form and practice of sin (intentional, deliberate, repetitive, in rebellious defiance of the Church) and reveals and effects a separation from the Body of Church (the Church), which is synonymous with loss of salvation. This being said, “we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1). Christians should live in the assurance and peace that the Lord has conquered and that he is their hope; being in the Church and united to the Lord in the Eucharist is a source of immense assurance and spiritual peace. There is watchfulness and care in how we live, but certainly no dreadful fear.

Answered on 6/20/2009 by Fr Laurent


  • Matthew Porcelli said on February 15, 2011:Christians in communion with Rome who are interested in Orthodoxy but not yet ready to join and are concerned about “mortal sin” should keep in mind the following from the Catechism: #1451-1452: “Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.” Therefore, if you commit what the Roman church calls a “mortal sin” and you confess it to God with sincerity because it offends Him who is all good and deserving of all your love and you seek confession as soon as possible… you have no need to worry. You should also research scrupulosity and the three conditions for a sin to be considered “mortal” (according to the Roman church).
  • David said on May 4, 2011:”While the Roman Catholic tradition has identified particular acts as ‘mortal’ sins, in the Orthodox tradition we see that only a sin for which we don’t repent is ‘mortal'” (Fr. Allyne Smith, in Phylokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts (Skylight Press, 2000), p. 2).
  • Thomas said on July 16, 2011:The RC Church teaches that those who are schism are in mortal sin. Do the EO believe that Roman Catholics are committing mortal sin by being RC since they do not repent for the sin of schism? Also, is the salvation of a Roman Catholic in jeopardy because they are not Orthodox?

Taken from Orthodox Answers