Sex Isn’t the Worst Sin, Says Pope Francis

As far as the deadly sins go, it turns out lust really isn't all that bad

Pope Francis during the meeting with the young people of the Scholas Community at the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae. Rome (Italy), November 25th, 2021.
He's not a regular pope, he's a cool pope.
Pool/F.Origlia/GG/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty

Good news: sex, particularly of the pre- and/or otherwise extramarital variety, isn’t really all that bad. This may seem pretty obvious to your average extramarital sex-haver today, but this ruling comes from none other than Pope Francis himself, leader of an institution that has long condemned sex outside marriage as a one-way ticket to eternal damnation.

According to the Pope, there are worse things you can do in the eyes of God than indulge in a little extramarital delight. Pope Francis — in keeping with his “cool pope” image — dropped this unexpected clemency during an interview with reporters on the papal plane while en route from Greece to Italy on Monday, Reuters reported.

“Sins of the flesh are not the most serious,” said the 84-year-old leader of the Catholic Church, explaining that as far as the seven deadly sins go, there are worse transgressions to be committed than giving in to one’s lustful impulses. Like, for example, pride and hatred, which the Pope ranked above sexier sins in terms of malignance.

By the way, this came up due to the recent resignation of a Paris archbishop, who left the position over allegations of improper intimate conduct with an anonymous woman. The 70-year-old French cleric, Michel Aupetit, denied the accusations, which would have violated his pledge of celibacy, but stepped down from the role anyway.

“It was a failing against the sixth commandment (You shall not commit adultery) but not a total one, one of small caresses, massage given to his secretary — that is what the accusation is,” Pope Francis clarified about Aupetit’s actions. “There is a sin there, but not the worst kind.”

Continuing in Aupetit’s defense, the pope added that he supports the resignation, but only because the rumors were too damaging. “He was condemned but by whom? By public opinion, by gossip … He could no longer govern,” Francis told reporters. “I accepted the resignation of Aupetit not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy.”

For those of us outside the Catholic faith, the real judge of these actions is not how sexual this act was, but whether this “sin of small caresses, massage given to his secretary,” was consensual or not. In today’s secular world, massaging one’s secretary is usually frowned upon and considered a form of sexual misconduct in the workplace, regardless of how sexual that act is determined to be. Still, the unknown nuances of Aupetit’s situation aside, it is nice to see the Church loosening up its stance against sex in general.

While conceding that sex is probably not the absolute most damning thing one could do in a world where murder and greed run rampant may seem like small potatoes, it is mildly encouraging to hear from the leader of the Catholic faith. Baby steps, right? Francis’s comments encouraging the not-total condemnation of sex follow other similar announcements from the Church leader, such as last year’s admission that sex can and should be had for pleasure. Overall, Francis’s attempts to make Catholicism slightly more palatable for modern practitioners is heartening. While I, someone who was raised Catholic, would be perfectly happy to see Catholicism simply fall by the wayside and die, if it must continue to exist, a more lax attitude toward sex seems like a good place to start.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!