Skip to Content

What mortal sins Cannot be forgiven?

Mortal sins are considered the most serious type of sin in Catholicism. They are sins that are done with full knowledge and deliberate consent, and go directly against God and his commandments. Unlike venial sins, which can be forgiven through confession and repentance, mortal sins risk eternal damnation unless absolved before death. However, the Catholic Church teaches that God is infinitely merciful, and there are very few sins that cannot be forgiven.

What Constitutes a Mortal Sin?

For a sin to be considered mortal, three conditions must be met:

  • It must be a grave matter, meaning it violates one of the Ten Commandments.
  • The person must have had full knowledge that the act was sinful.
  • It must have been committed with deliberate consent and full intention.

If any of these three conditions are not met, the sin is considered venial instead of mortal. Venial sins can be forgiven through ordinary confession, prayer, and acts of mercy.

Some examples of grave sins that are often considered mortal if the three conditions are met include:

  • Murder
  • Adultery
  • Theft
  • Missing Sunday Mass without good reason
  • Pornography and masturbation
  • Drunkenness
  • Slander or lying
  • Using contraception or abortion
  • Homosexual acts

However, there can be mitigating factors in many cases that reduce culpability and make a sin venial instead.

Sins Against the Holy Spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church identifies six sins against the Holy Spirit. These are considered unforgivable sins because they represent a refusal to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness:

  1. Despair – believing that one’s evil is beyond God’s forgiveness
  2. Presumption – the opposite extreme, believing one can sin without consequence
  3. Envy – sorrow over another’s good fortune
  4. Obstinacy – refusal to repent and return to God
  5. Impenitence – lack of contrition for sin
  6. Resisting the known truth – refusal to accept truth made known by the Holy Spirit

However, the Church clarifies that for a sin against the Holy Spirit to be mortal, all three conditions must still be met. The person must fully understand the sinful nature of the act, and deliberately commit it anyway.

When is a Mortal Sin Unforgivable?

The only time a mortal sin is truly unforgivable is if the person dies without repenting of it. Catholic teaching emphasizes God’s infinite mercy, and the availability of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As long as the person is alive, even a mortal sin can be absolved through:

  • Sincere contrition and repentance
  • Confession to a priest
  • Penance and absolution from the priest

After this process, the person is restored to a state of grace and mortal sin is wiped away.

However, if someone persistently refuses to repent, even on their deathbed, the mortal sin remains and leads to eternal damnation. But the Church stresses that this is an extreme and rare case.

Are There Exceptions?

The Catechism allows for very few situations where mortal sin may be unforgivable:

  • Dying unrepentant and unwilling to ask God for forgiveness.
  • Dying while excommunicated for heresy.
  • Causing a schism in the Church.
  • Consecrating a bishop without papal mandate.

In these cases, the Church views the person as deliberately cutting themselves off from God’s mercy and forgiveness.

However, the Church can never declare for certain that any individual person is in Hell. Only God can judge the heart, conscience, and circumstances.

Can Mortal Sins Be Forgiven After Death?

Catholic teaching allows for the possibility of purification after death for mortal sins in some cases, through:

  • Purgatory – A state of final purification before entering heaven. Venial sins can be cleansed here.
  • Prayers and indulgences for the dead – The living can pray for the soul and perform acts of mercy and devotion in their name.
  • The Last Judgment – At the end of time, Christ will make the final judgment and some form of mercy is possible.

But again, deliberately dying in unrepented mortal sin makes it extremely unlikely for mercy and forgiveness. The person has refused God’s grace in their last moments.

What About Non-Catholics?

The Catholic Church teaches that other Christian denominations have access to valid baptism and reconciliation. So Protestants and Orthodox can commit and be forgiven of mortal sin through confession, repentance, and absolution in their own churches.

For non-Christians, the Church teaches that Christ’s sacrifice made salvation possible for all, especially those who through no fault of their own have not come to explicit Christian faith. Sincere prayer according to one’s conscience can lead to forgiveness of sins.

Can I Be Forgiven of a Past Abortion or Other Mortal Sin?

Yes. The Catholic Church understands the gravity and trauma of sins like abortion. But through Confession, repentance and absolution, even the most troubling sins can be wiped away and healed by God’s grace and mercy.

By confessing in humility, receiving a penance, and resolving to sin no more, anyone can be forgiven of even their most serious transgressions. God always provides the grace to make a new start.


In conclusion, the Catholic Church teaches that God’s mercy and forgiveness are always available to us. While certain mortal sins are very grave and risk eternal loss, God actively wills our salvation and provides the means to wipe away even mortal sins through confession and repentance.

The only time a mortal sin is truly unforgivable is if the person consciously persists in it through their death without repenting. However, we can always pray for the salvation of souls, trusting in God’s justice and endless mercy. No matter what we have done, we should always retain hope and faith in the power of God’s love and grace.