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Tom wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question regarding Lent.

I am a college student who lives with two other guys in an apartment complex. I am a practicing Catholic, and one of my roommates, who also happens to be my best friend, is a non-practicing Catholic. He does not:

  • go to church anymore
  • abide by the rules during Lent
  • etc.

Just today we went to get lunch, like we do all of the time, and we got a pizza. I ordered the pizza on the phone so that I could go and pick it up and asked for half cheese and half pepperoni.

My friend wanted pepperoni, — he eats meat on Friday's during Lent, — and I got cheese because it was a Friday in Lent. I not only ordered the pizza, but I also paid for it because he did not have any money on him. He did say he was going to pay me back, which he will.

  • Does this make it wrong for me to have gotten the pizza with him seeing he is technically still a Catholic and I just stood by and let him get the meat portion of the pizza?

I read somewhere that it is a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday's during Lent.

  • Am I responsible for my friend's sin and if so, is it a mortal sin?

I have told him in the past that we are not supposed to eat meat on Friday's, but honestly, he does not listen to me and still would have probably eaten meat today even if we had not gotten the pizza.

Thanks again for all of your help!

Tom

  { Though my roommate is a non-practicing Catholic, am I responsible for his sin during Lent? }

Mike replied:

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the question.

No, it is not a mortal sin for you and, no, you are not culpable.

If your Catholic roommate has decided not to practice the faith and if he knew that eating meat on Friday's of Lent was a mortal sin, he, not you, are culpable.

By your question, he choose to have pepperoni on his portion of the pizza, not you. The Catechism tells us:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

I'm sure he's a good friend. It's hard to help someone appreciate the faith he has when he appears to have no interest in it.

He, like many of us, was probably never catechized correctly or even evangelized.

Being a good Catholic witness, ready with Catholic answers to questions he may have, is the best solution. Use our site if you need to. Hopefully he at least understands the idea of the Body of Christ, the Church, entering into the passion of Christ during Lent.

For the Church record:

  • It is a mortal sin to eat meat during Friday's of Lent if all three criteria for a mortal sin, previously mentioned, have been met.
  • Outside of Lent, Friday remains a day of penance. Here is what the Code of Canon Law has to says about these days:

    All Christ 's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

    (Code of Canon Law 1249)

    Thus the law of abstinence from meat is still binding unless one's national bishops' conference has provided for alternate forms of penance.

    In the United States, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has obtained permission from the Vatican for such substitution. Catholics are obliged to do some form of penance on Fridays and keep the day as per canon 1249, but now they can choose the form of penance they wish to do.

    Credit to Jimmy Akin and our colleagues at Catholic Answers, also check out:

That's my two cents; maybe my colleagues have a thought.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Tom,

I think I would float this with a priest in Confession and see what he thinks. It could be what is called proximate material cooperation in evil. That means essentially you were closely involved in his sin and in making it possible.

Without your money, for example, he would not have been able to buy the pizza and violate the Lenten norms (even if he could have gotten meat some other way). This involves nuances we aren't well trained here to get involved in so I would defer to a priest myself. Obviously you recognize that something could be wrong — perhaps your conscience is bothering you — so Confession is a good way to bring this up.

Unless you did this knowingly and with willing disregard for moral principles, I don't think it was a mortal sin.

You probably didn't realize what you were doing at the time.

Eric

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