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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Re: Shelly's question about confession

by Catherine Frakas 02 Mar 2001

Re: Shelly's question about confession QUESTION from Dave Conger on January 26, 2003 Around Jan. 6 or 7 (somewhere in that time frame), you answered a question from Shelly regarding confession. She said she had made a confession and then afterward realized she had left out some sins because of embarrassment. You said that if the sins she left out were mortal sins, she would need to go back and confess them, along with the sin of concealing mortal sins. You also added that she wouldn't need to re-confess the sins she had already confessed.
However, I'm afraid that's not true. If a person deliberately conceals even one mortal sin in confession, NOTHING is forgiven, and they commit the additional sin of withholding mortal sin. No one can be sorry for all their sins except one or two; it's an all or nothing thing. Thus, in addition to confessing the bad confession and the sins she withheld, Shelly would indeed need to re-confess everything (or at least all the mortal sins) she had already confessed.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on January 29, 2003 Dear Mr. Conger:
You appear to be right. I have done some research on this and have found several realible and orthodox sources that say the same thing you say. BUT, I have not find any actual Church document (yet) that gives this particular theological answer to the question.
Nevertheless, since ever orthodox priests and religious that I have found, who have spoken to this issue, affirm what you have said, the better part of valor is to accept the strict interpretation of this question because of the nature of the question. This is the advice of the Church on such issues -- that restrictions must be interpreted strictly.
Now of course, I haven't found the actual official document that answers the question, but the issue is a serious one as it deals with one's soul. Thus is it still prudent to adopt the restrictive answer to be on the safe side, until an official source can confirm.
I am presuming that your comments are the truth about this, I am just making a statement of attitude about how Catholics, operating from a Catholic worldview, should handle situations like this. As the old cliche says, Better be safe than sorry.
I will see if I can contact Shelly about this in case she doesn't see this post.
And to Shelly, if you aren reading this. I agree with Mr. Conger that I misspoke. Thus please do return to confession and confess all that you did before, plus the sins your withheld and the fact that you withheld them.
I would advise going back to the priest who heard your entire confession before. Don't be embarassed to do that.
Also, keep in mind that when confession you do not need to spend a lot of time on explaining situations and details. The Sacrament of Confession is not meant to be a counseling session, but rather a healing session to heal your soul and reconcile you to God and His Church.
You can, rather, list the kinds of sins that you have committed and an estimate of how many times committed. That should make the time in confession a little shorter.
For example, if you shoplifted from 25 stores, you do not need to list each store because the nature of the sin is the same each time. Rather day, Father I accuse myself of shoplifting. I committed this sin 25 times. Unless the priest asks you for further details, that sentence is what is needed to confess that particular sin -- and similar with all the other sins.
We will be praying for you.
And Thank You Mr. Conger for pointing this out. I apologize to the readers if that posting caused any confusion.
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