September 2015 Print


Is Catholic Trivia faithful to Catholic teaching?

I recently purchased the traditional version of Catholic Trivia. The first question was: “Anger is considered a sin against which commandment?” The answer given was: “The fifth,” and the fifth commandment tells simply: “Thou shalt not kill.” Now here is my first question. Is Catholic Trivia faithful to Catholic teaching? And if yes, how do you explain that anger applies to the fifth commandment?

Thank you for your email and your inquisitive eye which is obliging us to check some of the questions and answers of Catholic Trivia. Without a doubt, it is absolutely faithful to Church teaching, and you may certainly use is without scruples or worries as a tool and illustration of the Catechism. As regards the fact that abusive anger is an act against the fifth commandment, this is not quite as subjective as we might think at first sight. Killing the innocent is a violent act committed against one’s neighbor and is usually the final blow which comes out of a person in a fit of anger or, on the contrary, with cold calculation. Our Lord, naturally enough, connects “Thou shalt not kill” with the use of harsh words like “Racca” which would be said in anger (Mt. 5).

This is what the Baltimore Catechism does as it connects anger with the fifth commandment, listing with the grievous sins the venial sins, and especially those which children are prone to commit. It is conveniently tied up with one of the commandments as it fixes the mind of the little ones with some clarification even if the connection is not altogether perfect.

How do we explain the anger which Jesus displayed in the Temple?

Now, here is another less clear question. The Baltimore Catechism states that anger is a “strong feeling of displeasure often resulting in a loss of temper, one of the capital sins.” Then how do we explain the anger which Jesus displayed in the Temple?

I do think that you are right regarding anger as being in itself not sinful, in the same way as theologians define it as a passion, which can be used for good or bad, depending on circumstances. For example, Our Lord showed anger to the sellers of the Temple. Truly enough, the average Catholic connects anger with abuse. So, perhaps it would have been best for Catholic Trivia to express the question in this way: “When we sin against anger, against which Commandment do we sin?” which is more proper.

What is the gravity of the sin of anger?

Does that make this capital sin of anger less sinful? But, if this is the case, would not this involve a contradiction to say it would be capital and yet less sinful?

Here, I think that you are partially right in as much as the seven capital sins are the mothers of all other vices and each of them causes many others as a mother brings forth various children. You are less clear when you seem to indicate that they are not necessarily sinful of themselves. If they are capital sins, that means that they are sins, and not necessarily deadly because this depends on the circumstances and the gravity or parvity of matter. Sloth and gluttony are capital sins, but they certainly do not always cause a mortal sin. As a rule, anger is tagged as a mortal sin by moral theologians only in extreme cases of hurting the body or soul of another or damaging his property.