Is French Kissing a Mortal Sin? (Pope Alexander VII)

Does “making out” or “French kissing” constitute grave matter for people who are not married? I was recently asked this question and had to do some digging. I also checked out the Latin sources. Here’s what I found.

Alexander_VII (1)

Pope Alexander VII

Apparently Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-1667) was busy condemning not only French Jansensim, but also French kissing. Here’s the decree:

According to a decree of Pope Alexander VII in 1666, a kiss is not “merely a venial sin when performed for the sake of the carnal and sensible delight which arises from the kiss, even if the danger of further consent and pollution is excluded.”{1}

– Alexander VII, “Condemned Decrees” proclaimed on the 18th day of March in 1666 (Denzinger 2060, 1140 40).

So even if two people plan on preventing “further consent and pollution,” that is, they’re not going to engage in fornication, the kissing itself is gravely sinful if it elicits “carnal and sensible delight.”

Obviously giving someone a quick kiss or peck is does not cause “carnal and sensible delight.” However, prolonged kissing would. So what do we make of this? I suppose that this would be a very controversial topic in our day. Our culture and even our Church is concerned about all things sexual. What do you think? Please leave a comment.

{1} Here’s the Latin of Alexander VII. For the sake of clarity, the following opinion is not endorsed but is judged as false:

2060 1140 40. Est probabilis opinio, quae dicit, esse tantum veniale osculum habitum ob delectationem carnalem et sensibilem, quae ex osculo oritur, secluso periculo consensus ulterioris et pollutionis.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Comments Policy: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. If your comment contains a hyperlink to another site, your comment automatically goes into "Comments Purgatory" where it waits for release by way of moderation.