The Sins Which “Cry To Heaven” For Vengeance and You

Taylor Marshall at Canterbury Tales has posted on the sins which “cry to heaven” for vengeance, saying also that the USA have failed 4 for 4!

Some sources identity five sins that cry to heaven for vengeance or, variously, justice.

If you have never heard of the sins that “cry to heaven”, here they are from the Douay Catholic Catechism of 1649:

CHAPTER XX – The sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance
Q. 925. HOW many such sins are there?
A. Four.
Q. 926. What is the first of them?
A. Wilful murder, which is a voluntary and unjust taking away another’s life.
Q. 927. How show you the depravity of this sin?
A. Out of Gen. iv. 10. Where it is said to Cain “What hast thou done? the voice of the blood of thy brother crieth to me from the earth: now, therefore shalt thou be cursed upon the earth.” And Matt. xxvi 52, “All that take the sword, shall perish with the sword.”
Q. 928. What is the second?
A. The sin of Sodom, or carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.
Q. 929. What is the scripture proof of this?
A. Out of Gen. xix. 13. where we read of the Sodomites, and their sin. “We will destroy this place because the cry of them hath increased before our Lord, who hath sent us to destroy them,” (and they were burnt with fire from heaven.)
Q. 930. What is the third?
A. Oppressing of the poor, which is a cruel, tyrannical, and unjust dealing with inferiors.
Q. 931. What other proof have you of that?
A. Out of Exod. xxii. 21. “Ye shall not hurt the widow and the fatherless: If you do hurt them, they will cry unto me, and I will hear them cry, and my fury shall take indignation, and I will strike thee with the sword.” And out of Isa. x. 1, 2. “Wo to them that make unjust laws, that they might oppress the poor in judgment, and do violence to the cause of the humble of my people.”
Q. 932. What is the fourth?
A. To defraud working men of their wages, which is to lessen, or detain it from them.
Q. 933. What proof have you of it?
A. Out of Eccl. xxxiv. 37. “He that sheddeth blood and he that defraudeth the hired man, are brethren,” and out of James v. 4. “Behold the hire of the workmen that have reaped your fields, which is defrauded by you, crieth, and their cry hath entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabbath.”

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are saying – nervously – “1649? Seriously?  That book is too old to be accurate anymore.  We are all grown up now!  Surely these don’t apply to… to… us!  Do they?”

Yes. They apply to us.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.

I want to remind you that you are all going to die and be judged for what you have done and what you have failed to do, for good and for ill.  Our judgment will result in either Heaven (enjoyment of the presence of God for eternity, perhaps after a period of expiation of the temporal punishment due to sin) or Hell (the agony of separation from God for eternity).

For your homework:

  • Examine your conscience very carefully.
  • Consider what the first ten seconds of Hell would be like for the damned soul – the realization of where you are.
  • Consider the gifts Our Lord gives us in membership in His Church, which can provide you with the ordinary means He intended for your salvation.
  • Make a plan to go to confession.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Finarfin says:

    I’ve had the same thoughts as Taylor Marshall. We’re going to get punished so severely, I fear…

  2. FloridaJoan says:

    Thank you Fr Z; the truth is the truth … it doesn’t change. Confession today and first Fri Mass at 5PM.

    pax et bonum

  3. Peter Rother says:

    This summary is, simply put, outstanding. The is the best Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church available. Catholics arise! Regardless of the government and the socialist oppression, we have “the least” still in need. Take care of them in due respect of the salvation you have obtained in Christ.

  4. Bob B. says:

    What of the priest who is the Minister to Priests in the diocese who stated he had never heard of these sins? He didn’t even blink when the Catechism was shown to him. It’s a comfort to know that there is no homosexuality among the priests in this diocese (though a priest friend says it is probably around 60% – he must be in error, I guess).

  5. AvantiBev says:

    What strikes me is that the Douay Catechism teaches scripture. I learned from The Baltimore Catechism and I was horrified when I saw how watered down the “catechism” er, “catechetical tools” used to teach my little cousins in the 1980’s were. Two of the 3 have completely left the faith. One went to a small Christian college where she said for the first time she HAD to open a Bible and enjoyed it! This after 10 + years of CCD. She learned more about Old and New Testament there than at her parish.

  6. yatzer says:

    Interesting that this thought shows up here. I’ve been thinking the same thing myself and even looked up the Four Things last night to make sure I had it straight. Scary. Let me out of here before it happens, except there are children and grandchildren to think of. Sigh.

  7. bookworm says:

    Note also that while the first and second sins seem to be characteristic of liberals (abortion, same-sex “marriage”) the third and fourth might make some conservatives squirm, especially when the widows/orphans and workers defrauded of their wages happen to be illegal immigrants, or retirees/pensioners (both private and public sector) suddenly stripped of benefits they worked many years to earn. Yes, I realize that public pension plans, in particular, are not always sustainable at present levels and benefits were overpromised in the past. But, that does NOT change the fact that taking away benefits already earned and promised by contract (as opposed to FUTURE benefits not yet earned, which the worker can be advised of in advance, and choose to accept or not) is a great injustice.

  8. For anyone interested, there is an excellent little book called “The Four Last Things,… Death, Judgement, Hell, Heaven”, by Fr. Martin von Cochem, O.S.F.C. Copyright 1899 First published by Benziger Bros in 1900.
    Tan Books
    ISBN 0-89555-321-X

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Nice quotation from a source I like, Vatican Diary, on the re-statement of the Church’s teaching on sodomy on May 18, 2102 , (a word one cannot use in Canada, by the way).

    “In the famous Catechismo Maggiore of Saint Pius X published in 1905, in the answer to question 966, homosexuality is the second of the four “sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance”: “voluntary homicide”; the “impure sin against the order of nature”; the “oppression of the poor”; “defrauding a laborer of his just wage.”

    And the new Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1992 and in edizione tipica in 1997 does no less.

    In paragraph 1867 it reiterates that “The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are ‘sins that cry to heaven'”:

    And it continues, in biblical language:

    “The blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.”

  10. Oneros says:

    I think Peter Rother is correct when he calls this “Social Teaching.”

    It was my understanding that the “vengeance” these sins called for is not about particularly bad punishment in Hell for the individual as if these are the Four Worst Sins Possible, but rather is talking about Social/Temporal vengeance.

    That is to say, that any society that practices or institutionalizes these four things, that abuses human life, sexuality, power, and money…calls God’s vengeance on itself. In other words, that society will fall apart or collapse.

    If Life is considered the “central” value around which the other three form a sort of “triad”…we see resonances of this arrangement in many other Catholic triads.

    For example, in “chastity, obedience, poverty.” In the Three Enemies of “the flesh, the devil, and the world.” In the three temptations of Christ (one fleshly in the form of food, one about Christ abusing His power to test God, the last of greed over all the riches of the kingdoms of the world). Also in the rewards of heaven. There is the “essential reward” and then the accidental rewards. The “aurea” and then the three “aureolae” for Virginity, Doctorhood, and Martyrdom (which are seen as the signal victories over the Three Enemies).

    These three primary “modes” of human social relationships that form the structure of society: the sexual, the political, and the economic, as it were…thus seem to come up many places in the Catholic tradition as a triad.

  11. InformedAndFree says:

    Injustice to the wage earner….Bookworm, maybe overtaxation is also an injustice to the wage earner. I suppose it depends on your point of view.

  12. thickmick says:

    Thanks again for your charity, Father! You’re the best! Confession tomorrow for sure!

  13. JMJT says:

    These (especially #3 & 4) makes me think of how certain dioceses (Archdiocese of Boston for example) no longer offer adoption placements – – in that case it had essentially harmed the children and allowed its representatives at Catholic Charities to gravely harm orphans through adoption placements with same sex sodomite couples. In Massachusetts, with “gay” “marriage” laws – the government (led in part by Mitt Romney at the time) forced the Church to stop adoptions altogether claiming discrimination. Where was the fortnight for freedom mentality then? Boston rolled over under the clear violation of religious freedom. No lawsuits to protect the Church, to protect the orphans. I wonder if they are crying out to Heaven for justice? Apparently so, along with those orphaned by their mothers at Planned Parenthood and then aborted in Boston every day. So we have our bumperstickers: Choose Life/Choose Adoption…but don’t do what may be best for the baby -assist him to be adopted into a loving Catholic home with a mother and a father. Instead you refer him to those who will teach him that sin #4 is normal and good.

  14. JMJT says:

    Oh wait, with the Boston orphans example it was not #4, it was 2…well I suppose now that I think of it, all 4 are related anyway since, #1 willful murder via abortion, #2 the sin of sodom was promoted in “gay” adoptions, #3 the orphan is abandoned,his rights not fought for, we don’t help him into a good Catholic home, we let the state take over and place him with those in open homesexual lifestyle and also prior Catholic Charities placed the orphans with sodomites, and lastly, #4 as well since this state forces workers to give up wages to fraudulent immoral taxes by making us violate our consciences to pay for abortion and contraception in Massachusetts through Romneycare/Mass health.

  15. bookworm says:

    “maybe overtaxation is also an injustice to the wage earner”

    Of course it is, but perhaps not in the same fashion, and I believe there are other ways of dealing with the injustice of overtaxation than to defraud workers of their security in old age AFTER they have spent decades or a lifetime earning it. Private companies who unceremoniously dump pension and health plans for those already retired are just as guilty, for reasons I will outline below.

    My main concern is more the attitude that some (not all) persons who consider themselves socially and morally conservative, and who roundly condemn sins #1 and #2, have toward #4 in this instance — thinking of it as entirely justified, or even a positive good (“welcome to the real world!”) rather than as a great evil accepted reluctantly only in order to avoid a worse evil. Don’t forget that it was the many private companies who dumped retirees from their pension plans and got away with it who paved the way for this mentality. Although this is very much a “First World problem”, it is still wrong.

    I am NOT arguing, by the way, that wages or benefits in either the public or private sector cannot ever be cut back or eliminated. They can, provided they are FUTURE benefits not yet earned.

    If you tell current workers their pay will be cut after such and such date, or that they cannot expect to receive a pension when they retire, because the very survival of the company/state/whatever depends on it (not just merely to pad profits or bonuses), that is not unjust. You are letting the worker know in advance what compensation they can expect for the work they will do in the future, and giving them the chance to make a choice — quit and start looking for a better job elsewhere if they can find it, seek out supplementary income to replace the lost benefits, or simply accept the lower pay/benefits and adjust their lifestyle accordingly.

    Again, my concern is not so much with the nuts and bolts of wage and pension issues, as it is with an allegedly conservative attitude that trivializes the sin of defrauding the worker of his/her earnings, or even promotes it as good business or fiscal practice, in much the same way that modern liberals do to the sins of abortion/murder and sodomy.

  16. robtbrown says:

    There is no doubt that when there was slavery in the US, workers were defrauded of their wages. Pre union industrialism


    1. A good friend who is a labor lawyer tells me that the delinquents in pension funding have not been businesses but rather state govts. Businesses are required by law to contribute to pension funds, state govts are not. In KPERS, the Kansas public employee pension fund, the delinquency of state govts in contributing to the fund has been combined with sluggish investments. And KPERS is in relatively good shape compared to CALPERS. d

    2. Most companies have moved away from guaranteed pensions to an investment model. Ditto the Federal govt.

    3. Inflation favors debtors.

    4. The issue of livable wage is more complex than is often recognized. Let’s say a married man with children and a young, unmarried man equally perform the same job. Should the married man be paid more? If so, then it is unjust to the unmarried man because he is being denied equal pay for equal work.

  17. LisaP. says:

    I think it’s terrific, and awfully Catholic, to see these sins all lumped together. It is one of my consistent disappointments with Catholic preaching, that I rarely hear about sin at all but when I do it’s usually the priest’s “pet sin” .

    I’d look out, though — in reviewing these 4 it’s easy to slip off to the side again and start thinking of them in solely corporate terms — the sin of abortion is the sin of the American nation; or the sins against wage earners are about company policy. Entities, groups, corporations, governments don’t sin. Individuals do. Yes, voting matters (probably. . . maybe. . . at least we need to vote in case it does) but the catechism here isn’t advising us to chastise Johnson and Johnson for a board decision. If you happen to be on the board or a CEO making the decision to cut promised pensions (how that’s even legal is beyond me, if compensation for labor is X now and Y later, removing Y after labor is delivered is theft, no?) or in the Senate when an abortion law is being voted on, that’s one thing. But if we read the entry and only make it about other peoples’ sins, plural and distant, it’s an avoidance of the prohibitions.

    When we look at these sins we need to look at them in terms of actual choices by our actual selves in our minute to minute existence, not as overarching “policy” theology, it seems to me.

  18. robtbrown says:

    LisaP says,

    or the sins against wage earners are about company policy.

    What are some specific examples of sins against wage earners?

    If you happen to be on the board or a CEO making the decision to cut promised pensions (how that’s even legal is beyond me, if compensation for labor is X now and Y later, removing Y after labor is delivered is theft, no?)

    Are you aware that the US govt has done it with the military? For years one of the promises made to the military was, providing 20 years, free medical care for life. That ended a few years ago.

    Not sure about the legality but pension considerations have changed for 3 reasons: Longer life spans, poorly performing investment markets, and increased cost of health care.

    Most pension plans have been a combo of indiv and company contributions. If the payee is denied of that money, excepting company bankruptcy, that would be theft. A promised amount of a yearly annuity, however, that is not broken is another question.

  19. The Cobbler says:

    Tell us more about this Douay Catholic Catechism of the 17th century… please?

  20. LisaP. says:


    Yes, I’m awfully aware of the military situation!! :) That’s actually what I had in mind. I am shocked at how blatantly our nation has broken its promises there.

    I marvel, in fact, at all the folks who put their retirement into Roth IRAs, etc., on the promise that these retirement vehicles will be tax deferred or grow tax free. In a world where the promise to vets is so brazenly broken, where the promise to Medicare and Social Security contributors is so blatantly broken (“we’re just holding your money for you, you get it at the end of your life, and it won’t matter how little or how much money you have, it’s not welfare, it’s savings”), I don’t know how anyone can believe the government will really let all those IRAs and 401Ks and etc. grow huge over the course of decades and still be able to keep its mitts off what it promised it would keep its mitts off.

    I definitely agree that reduction in what a company *speculates* retirement might bring is just life. But a reduction in what a company promised to pay before services were rendered, that’s theft.

    Examples of sins against wage earners, that are specifically individual, you mean?

    I can give potential examples, although they are all hypothetical situations.

    I personally believe I am sinning when I casually buy products I don’t need (or can get otherwise with more cost or inconvenience) when they are produced with slave labor — I consider communist China pretty obviously a slave state, other nations I feel I have more wiggle room!

    I lived in a small community where the moms decided one by one that their job description didn’t need to include cleaning toilets, so they found a woman who was likely an illegal immigrant and had her do their housecleaning. It wasn’t a wealthy neighborhood, but that was o.k., because she didn’t ask to be paid much. One mom thought she was such a great value she hired her to nanny her children. I find this quite probably a sin against a wage earner. Just because someone is willing to be used doesn’t mean it is o.k. to use her.

    I think owners of small businesses need to make sure they are paying an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Many calculate their wages based on how little they can pay based on what the labor market may bear, and feel it is perfectly moral to pay whatever they can “get” labor for, without regard for what is just. In a free system, market value will reflect justice, but our system is pretty disordered at this point and I don’t think anyone can assume that match, now.

    I think employees need to make sure they are giving a fair day’s work for a day’s pay. If someone spends time on the clock watching movies on their mobile devices, that’s (usually) wrong. That’s not a sin against a wage earner, specifically, but I think you could put it under that since you are stealing from your employer but also sinning against the people the company serves and sinning against your fellow wage earners who need to make up your work, often.

    That’s the kind of thing I meant.

  21. pj_houston says:

    Illegal immigrants defraud lawful citizens of their just wages. Many of our bishops are complicit in this sin that’s cries out to Heaven for vengeance. I recommend the book: On The Immorality of Illegal Immigration. HERE

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