Absolution and Omission (multiple questions)

I should know this, but I feel like discussing it anyway. I like asking questions and getting feedback. =)

Now, my question(s) is, if you have multiple sins to confess, but you only confess some of them, and the priest absolves you, is this a valid confession and valid absolution? To be more specific, when given the absolution, are you forgiven for the sins you confessed and the others you didn’t are not but will be forgiven when you confess them, or is the whole confession counteracted and invalid by the fact you’re committing a sin of omission at the same time and therefore NONE of your sins are truly forgiven?

Is it possible to be forgiven of some of your sins (the ones you mentioned) and be considered in a state of grace (ie- it’s ok to receive communion) after absolution, or are you still considered ‘contaminated’ enough or lukewarm? It almost seems as if you’d be partially forgiven but not completely, and not enough to receive communion with the grace to do so.

Although, the priest does say “and now I absolve you of ALL of your sins…”

Does this mean only the sins you just confessed, or, indeed, ALL of the sins you COULD have confessed, but didn’t for whatever reason (ie- you’re still too attached to a particular sin and not ready to let it go, you’re ashamed, need to work up the courage first, whatever) ? Would this also include old sins that we’ve forgotten even happened, and all sins dating back to our childhood as well?

If it is the latter like this, then, technically speaking, why would you need to (although I would want to anyways) confess these other sins if the priest just forgave them? Would it be necessary only as a creature comfort and for our own peace of mind to confess them in a follow-up confession, or is it not necessary as per God’s Grace and forgiving power, brought to bare through the priest? Or, is the absolution only including additional venial sins as forgiven, and the mortal ones are not yet? And if that’s the case, are you in a state of grace after confession or not?

Another confusing point is the difference in the wording the priest gives you. Sometimes I’ve gotten “and now I absolve you from THESE and ALL of your sins, in the name…”

Sometimes they add both “these” and “all”, which clearly states that both are being forgiven, whereas “all your sins” is ambiguous enough in it’s wording, that it probably just means just the sins you confessed.

So, if you confessed alot of venial sins, for example, but you intentionally left out a mortal sin or two because you’re not ready to confront them yet or you’re not in the right mindset to do so, or if you’re not even sure they’re mortal sins and you get absolution, which action counteracts, nullifies and supersedes the other?

Does the binding power of God’s forgiveness through the words “I forgive you of all your sins, in the Name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” overshadow the sins of omission and INCLUDE the sins of omission IN the absolution (meaning they’re forgiven as well), or do the sins of omission make this not only an invalid confession, and mean that the sins were not forgiven, and that it does not bestow the state of grace upon you even though it otherwise would have if you were in a way to confess everything? Or look at it this way too: How MUCH confessing is necessary to be in a state of grace at any single point and time? That would imply there’s a required volume or amount, and that doesn’t seem right, logical, or fair, since you cannot cover everything.

You are forgiven in confession from the sins that you confess with repentance,
even if you purposely omitted certain other sins,
even if you are unrepentant from certain other sins.

If you enter the confessional not in a state of grace, due to actual mortal sin,
you do not leave in a state of grace unless you confess and are repentant from each and every actual mortal sin, however,
if you are entirely repentant from all mortal sins,
but can’t remember, or unintentionally omit some of them,
you are still forgiven from all your mortal sins.

Venial sins are forgiven with a good confession even if not stated in the confessional.

It does not matter if the wording ‘all your sins’ is used, you are
forgiven or not forgiven (as stated above) according to the teaching of the Church.

If you deliberately leave out of the confession an actual mortal sin, from which you are unrepentant,
you remain in a state of actual mortal sin, not in a state of grace.

This may seem stupid of oblivious of me to say or ask, but could you clarify “unrepentant”? Are you saying that if you are no longer committing the mortal sin (and are being repentant in that way) but chose not to confess it at that time, then it too is forgiven because you’ve at least stopped the act itself, even though you haven’t been absolved of it yet?

Let me create another hypothetical for this instance then:

You go to confession with 1 mortal sin and several venial sins. You are not in a state of grace going into confession due to the 1 mortal sin. However, you stopped committing the sin and haven’t done it again, leading up to this confession. Are you or are you not forgiven of “all your sins.” if you choose not to confess the mortal sin at that time, figuring that, you’re working your way up to confessing it, but you’re not quite there yet?

In other words, the priest doesn’t know what’s going on, but God does and He knows your conflicted heart. So, in reality, is God willing to meet you half way? You stop the sin, but He gives you time to come to terms with it, dettach yourself from it, and get into the mindset necessary to make a good confession out of it, and in exchange for you doing this He provides you a temporary state of grace or blessing or some such (especially in the event of an unprovided death), or even full grace, so as to continue receiving communion and, ASAP, confess the sin out loud to the priest and get the technical end of the absolution fulfilled and met.

Or, is this flawed logic and blasphemous? It could also be asked when death occurs. If someone was working their way up to confessing their mortal sins and experiencing contrite repentance, and they have stopped doing them, but have not confessed them yet, and they get into an accident and die, do they go to hell or purgatory? Either you would say they go to hell because they didn’t go to confession, or they go to purgatory because in their heart, they had the intent to eventually get the state of grace that confession would provide. Or is it that God is so good that He would count this person as if he HAD confessed the sins and received absolution and so it would be, to God, as if that person WAS in a state of grace?

Alternatively, what if you confessed some of your mortal sins but for reasons beyond your control, the confession had to end. For example, the priest needs to get ready for mass, but he quickly gives you absolution?

Do you leave in a state of grace even though you didn’t leave the confessional having confessed all of them? This would imply that God forgives you of all of them since you had the intention to confess them.

None are forgiven, if you deliberately hold back a mortal sin.Can. 960 Individual and **integral **confession and absolution constitute the only ordinary means by which a member of the faithful conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and the Church.
Integral in this context means complete, i.e all mortal sins of which you are aware.

Thomas Aquinas (Summa III, 86, 3) explains it this way:It is impossible for Penance to take one sin away without another. First because sin is taken away by grace removing the offense against God. . .Now every mortal sin is opposed to grace and excludes it. Therefore it is impossible for one sin to be pardoned without another. Secondly. . . a man cannot be truly penitent, if he repent of one sin and not of another. . . Whence it follows that it is impossible for one sin to be pardoned through Penance, without another. Thirdly, because this would be contrary to the perfection of God’s mercy, since His works are perfect. . . wherefore whomsoever He pardons, He pardons altogether.

No, you cannot be partially forgiven.

This refers to any mortal sins of which you were not aware (i.e. your forgot them) and to any venial sins not mentioned or not aware. It does NOT refer to any mortal sins whcih you were aware of and deliberately omitted.

No, it means NONE of yours sins are absolved. The absolution does not obtain.

Yes, if you didn’t deliberately omit a mortal sin, then all sins even ones you have forgotten are absolved.

The priest hasn’t forgiven any if you have deliberately withheld a mortal sin.

If you legitimately forgot a mortal sin, you did receive absolution for all your sins, including the forgotten one. But IF you later remember that sin you are under an obligation to confess it at a subsequent confession in order to submit it to “the power of the keys” and fulfill your obligation in Canon law.

No, venial sins cannot be forgiven if you have a known mortal sin omitted.

Nope, you aren’t in the state of grace.

Deliberate withholding KNOWN mortal sins (i.e. you are sure that they are mortal) invalidates the absolution of all the rest, venial or mortal. You haven’t received absolution.

One must confess all mortal sins of which one is aware to receive sacramental absolution. See Canon 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

And last, but not least, to sum it all up, see The Council of Trent, Session XIV:**all **the mortal sins, of which, after a diligent examination of themselves, they are conscious, **must **needs be by penitents enumerated in confession. . . all mortal sins, even those of thought, render men children of wrath, and enemies of God, it is necessary to seek also for the pardon of them all from God, with an open and modest confession. Wherefore, while the faithful of Christ are careful to confess all the sins which occur to their memory, they without doubt lay them all bare before the mercy of God to be pardoned: whereas they who act otherwise, and knowingly keep back certain sins, such set nothing before the divine bounty to be forgiven through the priest: for if the sick be ashamed to show his wound to the physician, his medical art cures not that which it knows not of.
What do you think, does that help?



Heh, sounds like me.

Here’s my issue:

I had a mortal sin on my mind and made a mental list intending to confess it along with several others. I got very choked up about messing up with one in particular and when Father asked me afterwards, “is there anything else?” I totally racked my brain trying to remember. I ended with, “I’m sure there is, Father, but I can’t think of it!” Father told me something I can’t remember now, but he did assure me that my sins were forgiven because I wanted to confess them, even if I couldn’t remember them. Then later on after receiving forgiveness, I remembed it and prayed to God, “please don’t hold this against me, I really couldn’t remember!” And later on at the next confession, I forgot it again! …come to think of it, now I don’t even remember what it was. :blush:

I’ve gotten to the point where I know better - when I’m in confession, at the end I always say, “Father, I know there’s something I’m missing or forgetting, or that I’ve overlooked something, and I know that if I were thinking of it or could remember I’d confess it.” I’ve given up trying to remember absolutely everything in the confessional because when I get there, there’s usually something big I recall doing that overshadows all my other mistakes and I get worked up over those. And forget everything else.

…I know you’re not supposed to because Father made disapproving noises one time when I did and didn’t hide it, but sometimes I actually write down all my sins that I can think of and bring the list in with me so I have an idea of what I’ve got on my mind.

I know how you feel about this. I’ll have one big sin, for example, and I’m so anxious or relieved to be getting rid of it (even temporarily), that I forget the other sins, which while they are not as severe, are probably something I would have put more thought and deliberation into had this one bigger sin not monopolized my thinking.

I wonder whether God accepts that we’re like this and forgives us anyway. There’s the church law and then theres God Himself. To say they’re not always in perfect harmony with eachother would probably be a heresy or blasphemy, but I do wonder sometimes.


I’m perplexed, because Tabsie’s situation and what you just mentioned in your post is addressed by the Church. You are obliged to confess all mortal sins of which you are aware. If you legitimately forget one, or many, you are forgiven all. If you later remember one, you are obliged to confess it so long as you are aware of it (i.e. if you forget again, thats ok – you must confess those that you remember while actually in the confessional.)


I think it might be perplexing you because I wager that Tabsie and myself are suffering psychologically over this. I’m sure we both know that we need to confess this or that because it’s a mortal sin, that’s just common sense.

But, if he/she is anything like me, Tabsie, is scrupulous. It’s easy to second guess how forgiveness works in a technical sense when you question the nature of sin itself and how it applies to your conscience in a given circumstance. If you second guess yourself, it’s easy to second guess the technicalities of how confession works or to ponder on whether there is a loophole that God, but not the church, would provide. When you over-analysis like this, you get your answer alright, as this thread has done, but are left feeling perplexed by the lunacy of your original questions. :stuck_out_tongue:

Do you ever watch NUMB3RS on TV? You know how the mathematician guy fills up chalkboard after chalkboard with long equations? That’s what you remind me of, trying to parse out the technicalities of forgiveness.

Maybe you need a different look at confession and forgiveness. It is a most personal and intimate encounter with God, Who sees every one of your thoughts and motivations, Who knows all your sins and whether or not you are sorry for them. Most importantly, He loves you with a love beyond all telling, seeking you out to bring you back into friendship with Him. **He holds nothing back, and expects the same of you. **Honesty and love are what He requires of you. Holding things back has no place here. Can you do this? Sure you can - look at the Love that awaits you!


Now, see, it’s responses like this that make me regret the way I worded my post. I knew that there would be people who would think that I see confession in purely analytical or technical terms, like a lawyer or something, and that wasn’t the impression I wanted to give. I really am just that meticulous about it, or rather, about myself.

I do approach it from a spiritual perspective first and foremost, and I put myself in God’s mercy. I don’t feel burdened when confessing and I don’t feel embarrassed. The cause for this thread actually had to do with several other issues that came to my conscience recently having to do with illegally using computer software programs and a thread on this site having to do with it. I use such programs, and while I only stole the programs once by downloading them, I was really wondering whether I can still be absolved and be in a state of grace after I confess the usage of these programs and still use them. Because the fact is, I need them to continue being productive with my work and getting better, so while I am sorry for the original sin in having downloaded the programs, I’d be continuing to use the programs further.

I know that if I confessed these sins, God would definitely forgive me. However, technically speaking, I’d be going right back into a mortal sin the next time I open up the program and start drawing. This would require another confession, right?

So, in essence, I’d NEVER be in a state of grace even if this was the only mortal sin I had and was confessing it with every use of the programs. The answer is to buy the programs legally, but I am not able to do that right now, and trying to work with a free (and usually inferior) program, would be pointless, meaning I’d have to stop using these programs entirely until I can afford them. That’s not feasible for me.


I know it’s wrong, and I’m not denying that, but that’s why I asked about sins of omission and whether ALL your sins are forgiven in confession. If I’m going to keep using the programs, thereby prolonging the sin, there is little point in confessing it. And if I cannot go to confession to have my venial sins forgiven because the mortal sin will not be washed away, and because of that, the venial sins will not be either, then confession is pointless and invalid, right?

None of you know me and probably ever will, and I won’t go into detail and bore you with my interests, hobbies, and goals. But let me just say this: without these programs I am artistically hindered a great deal. I’ve thought about this and I’m going back and forth and it’s a torment in it’s own right. If I do the right thing and give up the programs until I can afford them, it would be the equivalent of locking myself in a room without the ability to leave or expand. My passion, my hobby, and perhaps my future career, would, for now, be set back and put on hold in a major way without these programs. They, literally, are THAT essential. A tax man can’t work without his calculator, and an artist cannot work without his tools. Sure, that tax man could actually pay for that calculator, and he’d only be set back maybe 30 bucks for a good one. I, on the other hand, who am a college student with very little money and am currently unemployed, cannot afford programs that cost between 200-400 dollars each, assuming they’re not on sale.

Art is the only thing I have, other than my growing relationship with God, that brings me personal fulfillment. It’s a hobby and a gift I’ve had since I was a child. And now it’s in serious danger of being jeopardized because of this.

I don’t want to live in a constant state of mortal sin, and I don’t want to be committing mortal sins. But to not be doing that in this instance means giving up something that’s precious to me and not knowing whether I’ll be able to get it back short term. Eventually, yeah, I’ll be able to afford the programs if I get a job and save, but until then, it would be asking an awful lot of me to give these programs up.

And I am motivating myself to do just that. I can honestly say I want to choose God and be in His Graces and Favor, and if that means having to go without for an unknown amount of time, and possibly see my digital art skills and opportunities suffer because of it, then it’s a blow I have to be willing to take.

Naturally, I was hoping there would be another way, where I could keep the programs, confess the original sin (which was downloading them) which I’d have no problem doing, continue using the programs until I can afford to buy them without having to confess it over and over again, and that this would somehow mean I’d be in state of grace. I didn’t want to admit that it doesn’t work this way and cannot work this way. Even if God knows where my heart is, the rules are the rules.

I’m sure priests know people are going to go out and sin again. That’s a given. Even though we promise not to, or we pledge not to when we say the act of contrition, we all know we’re going to do it again somehow. In my case, it would continue to be over the same issue, and I really was hoping that confessing it once would take care of it, and I’d be in a state of grace even though I still benefit from the sin. I realize how horribly opposed to one another these ideas are. I can’t have my cake and eat it to, and I really just wanted confirmation from you guys that I was right in coming to that conclusion the way I did.

First, why not ask the priest in confession exactly what you have asked here? If he tells you that it would be sinful to continue using the programs, you know what you have to do. Remember that God wills your good all the time, and if you must delete these programs and not have them at your disposal until you can legitimately obtain them, there is something very good in it for you, and I mean more than just staying in the state of grace. You may find another outlet for your artistic expression that you would not have otherwise. You may receive money or the software itself, or a job to earn it in a way that shows God’s providence and love for you in an amazing way. Place the situation in God’s hands without insisting on your own way. You NEED to trust God more than you NEED to use this software.

God bless you!


I will talk to a priest about this, but I’ll have to be brief, since if theres a line for confession or time is short before mass, I want to be get everything in.

Here’s another issue, though: do I delete the programs now, or wait until I confess next weekend? If I delete them now, and find out I didn’t have to, and am given absolution, then to get the programs back, I’d have to download them AGAIN, which is committing the sin a second time. However, if I leave them on the computer for now, until after confession, and he determines it’s ok to keep them (I highly doubt this at this point) then I wouldn’t have to sin again just to get the programs back. I highly doubt a priest would advice to keep illegally downloaded goods, so part of my penance would probably be to delete the programs.

Also, not being able to draw digitally and color digitally with those programs will allow me to focus more on my traditional art, like ink and pencil work. So there are good points to all of this, but it’s really going to hurt big time, since my options will be very limited with the traditional stuff. One of the reasons digital is so useful is because it means you don’t have to continually restock supplies, like with real paint and ink, etc. So it’s cost-effective.

Anyways, thank you for your advice! God bless! :slight_smile:

OK, here’s what I think you should do. Leave the software on your computer until after confession, but don’t use it.

Don’t worry about who’s in line behind you at confession. It doesn’t take long to say, “I downloaded some software illegally. I am very attached to it. May I continue to use it if I don’t do any more illegal downloads?” The priest doesn’t need to know all the specifics of your art in order to answer this heart-of-the-matter question. If he needs more information, he’ll ask you.

And when the priest says, “No,” you go home and delete it all.

It will be of great benefit to you and your artistic development to use traditional methods. It kind of reminds me of learning to do all the math on your own before you start using a calculator. You’ll have a deeper understanding and better skills.



[quote=peary1]If you are purposely holding back certain sins, you are forgiven those that you confess, but the others, no. It doesn’t make the absolution invalid, just incomplete.

seems to be controverted by the Catechism:

1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."
When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.”

Perhaps you misspoke? I do that all the time!

God reads the heart and knows what we are capable of confessing and not at a particular time. That is how I read it. as long as we are alive in the world, His mercy is endless.


I certainly agree on both counts.

But the Church teaches, and gives good reasons for the teaching, that one cannot receive forgiveness for one mortal sin while holding on to another. Absolution must be received with empty hands.

Forgiveness is an all or nothing proposition.


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