Skip to main content
Ave Maria Meditations

Doctrine of Original Sin is the alternative to a ‘vision of despair’.

Original Sin should always be understood in the context of the salvation brought by Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict XVI told one of his regular Wednesday weekday audiences.

Speaking to about 7,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Holy Father acknowledged that the doctrine of Original Sin is unpopular today. “Many people think that, in the light of the history of evolution, there is no place” for such a belief, he said. But if there is no sin that stains mankind, there is no necessity for salvation.

“Does Original Sin exist or not, then?” the Pontiff asked rhetorically. He pointed out that St. Paul, in sketching “the basic outlines of the doctrine” in his Letter to the Romans, explains Original Sin by comparing the Fall in Eden with the redemption brought by Christ, the new Adam.

Every rational person recognizes the reality of human weakness, the Pope said. The doctrine of Original Sin goes beyond that obvious reality to address the “ontological foundation” of evil, he said. “In effect, there is a contradiction in our being. On the one hand we know we must do good, and in our inner selves this is what we desire, yet at the same time we feel an impulse to do the opposite, to follow the path of egoism, of violence.”

When we recognize this inner struggle, the Pope continued, we also recognize the desire to be freed from our own weakness. That desire, he said, is universal: a common striving of all mankind.

Different theories have been advanced to explain this contradiction within the human soul, the Pope observed. One theory, advanced by atheists, is that good and evil always coexist in everyone. But that theory, the Pope said, “is a vision of despair,” because it suggests that “evil is invincible,” inevitably present at all times and in all persons.

Christians, drawing on the thought of St. Paul, recognize “the reality of the darkness of evil weighing upon the whole of creation.” Yet they know that this darkness is ultimately overcome by the light of Christ. Pope Benedict explained:

The faith tells us that there are no two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle which is God the Creator and He is solely good, without shadow of evil. Hence neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good. … This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason … life too is good.



Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Gary says:

    Maybe someone can clarify this topic. It is evolves around the theories placed by both St. Thomas Acquinas Dominican and St. John Scott Duns ,Franciscan.

    Was it John Duns who states that Christ would have come even if there was no original sin?

    Are these 2 thesies still accepted and debated or has one prevailed. I have heard them stated independently of each other but never together for contrast and comparison and better yet a lasting impression of which has been secured as dogma of the Church.

    Therefore as wonderful as the Pope’s question about “is there such a thing as original sin?” ….the more poignant and pressing question is:
    ” even if there was no original sin and therefore no need of salvation….would Christ still have come as a man?

    the converse to that question would be: If there was original sin did Chhrist have to come as a man to Redeem and save mankind or was there another way?

    After all the segmented deliberations, I still remain confused

  • JosephMary says:

    You might wish to watch Fr. Maximilian Dean’s whole series on this topic!

    This above link was the last of the series but you can get to the whole thing from there.

    Ave Maria!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.