Q. 1. I recently heard a reference to a "social sin." Can you tell me what that is?
A. 1. In brief, it means the result of millions of different selfish choices by as many different people. It is sins that give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness.
According to the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliation and Penance" of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops, clergy and faithful on reconciliation and penance", social sin involves:
"To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual's sin in some way affects others.
Some sins, however, by their very matter constitute a direct attack on one's neighbor and more exactly, in the language of the Gospel, against one's brother or sister. They are an offense against God because they are offenses against one's neighbor.
The third meaning of social sin refers to the relationships between the various human communities. These relationships are not always in accordance with the plan of God, who intends that there be justice in the world and freedom and peace between individuals, groups and peoples."
Examples of social sins are birth control, drug abuse, pollution, racism, slavery, and unjust wars.