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DEGENERATE

A person whose moral behavior is so bad that it offers little prospect of conversion. Degeneracy implies grave culpability, self-indulgence over a long period of time, and a general breakdown of character that shows positive indifference, if not hostility to the moral law. A degenerate, however, need not be notoriously criminal in external behavior, and may even appear to be a respectable person. The essence of degeneracy is internal perversion of will. (Etym. Latin degenerare, to fall from one's ancestral quality: de-, away from + genus, race.)

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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