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Ask A Franciscan: No Unforgivable Sin

What sins against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven?

In Matthew 12:31, Jesus says: “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” The New American Bible’s footnote for this verse explains that the blasphemy is attributing to Satan (previous verse 24) what is the work of the Spirit of God (previous verse 28).

Technically, blasphemy is claiming for oneself what belongs to God alone. In that sense, it would be blasphemy to say that a person could commit a sin that exceeded God’s power to forgive.

During a penance service at St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13, Pope Francis announced a Holy Year of Mercy to be celebrated throughout the world from December 8, 2015, through November 20, 2016.

Commenting on the Gospel passage about the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Lk 7:36-50), the pope emphasized the merciful love of Jesus that evoked the sinful woman’s love. “God forgives her many sins; he forgives her for all of them, for ‘she loved much’ (Lk 7:47); and she adores Jesus because she feels that in him there is mercy and not condemnation. . . . The hero of this encounter is certainly love, a mercy which goes beyond justice.

“Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always.”