Catechism of the Catholic Church

102 Part One 403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination toward evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection withAdam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul.” 291 Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin. 292 404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descen- dants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man.” 293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had re- ceived original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve commit­ ted a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. 294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmis­ sion of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed”—a state and not an act. 405 Although it is proper to each individual, 295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin—an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. 406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the im- pulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the six- teenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary 291 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512. 292 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1514. 293 St. Thomas Aquinas, De Malo 4, 1. 294 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1511-1512. 295 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513. 2606 1250 360 50 2515 1264