If a Christian denies his faith while being tortured, has he committed apostasy?

Full Question

If a Christian denies his faith while being tortured, has he committed apostasy?


Objectively speaking, anyone who totally repudiates the Christian faith has committed apostasy (CCC 2089), which is a grave matter. In this situation, though, the torture could mitigate his ability to choose purposefully. For grave matter to be a mortal sin, it must also include “full knowledge and deliberate consent” to the action (CCC 1857). So, while the person would not have demonstrated the heroic virtue of a Christian martyr, it is possible that he would not be culpable for apostasy.
It is also possible for a person who is facing martyrdom to first deny his faith but later repent and go to his martyrdom, as was the case of St. Joan of Arc, who first tried to save herself from the flames but then repented. Perhaps she might be considered the patron saint of reluctant martyrs.

Categorized as Q&A

By Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed


  1. It’s possible? What kind of answer is that? Who the check is Joan of Arc? It’s like saying is it possible to torture someone until they accept Jesus. Are they really saved now once we have made it mortally impossible for them to refuse Jesus? Peter denied knowing Jesus because of fear. No pressure on Peter, but fear and pride. Pride, because the Lord told them they would leave him but Peter said not so Lord. He should have said give us grace to stand. If the Lord says something we don’t question. If you see latter though Peter became imprisoned and was going to loose his head the next morning. Peter had matured in Faith so much he just went to sleep as if nothing was wrong. We can mature to this place also just like Peter and have grace until we reach that place. Just like Peter.

  2. But what about the young girls in Africa who were kidnapped? Those poor young girls. My beloved God would forgive them.

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