Absolution of unsaid sins


This has happened to me repeatedly and instead of feeling freed by the grace of the sacrament I feel scared and perhaps even worse off.

I’ll go in for confession with say three mortal sins. I’ll name one and I can hardly finish my first sentence before the priest goes on with the absolution and asks for my act of contrition to send me on my merry way.
I don’t know what to do at this point. All I can think of is, “I’ve still got two mortal sins” and “how do I politely interrupt and get him to take me seriously?”
Usually I’ll quickly try to say “and for those sins I have forgotten I’m sorry” and just let the priest do this. Despite the fact I haven’t forgotten these sins at all, somehow I’m hoping this’ll cover the remaining two. But I know it doesn’t.
Sometimes I’ll try to stop the man and explain there’s more I’ve done, but often the priest does not humor me very well and will just cut me off again. Blowing them off as “not real sins” before I even say what they are.

Are the sins I ended up failing to say absolved? Should I be at peace that I have fully received the grace and forgiveness to restore me to communion with God? Or, should I stop the priests from blowing me off until I am sure I’ve named each and every mortal sin?

Today this particular priest, after hardly letting me get the first mortal sin out, left me with the words, “don’t take yourself too seriously”
And many would say, he’s right, but this is actually the same priest who I’ve caught multiple times saying heresies in his homilies (For example: Jesus said a lot of things that shocked the Jewish people such as He would destroy and rebuild the temple in three days. This priest equated their shock and disbelief to what ours would be if women priests were allowed in the Church tomorrow and said the Church hasn’t gotten to that point “yet”). He’s always a lot more focused on making you feel good than actually be good. I’m not looking for the attaboys, the “I’m sure what you’ve done isn’t that bad” when you don’t even know what I’ve done. If I wanted that kind of sugarcoating and babying and denial of my own fault, I think I’m part of the wrong church.
I’m trying to take my sins with the same seriousness God does, after all, it was for my sins His Son was crucified. I don’t want to take my sin lightly or my absolution from them when it was bought at such a high price and I would be damned without it.
I’m a sinner. I NEED absolution because I NEED God.

If someone could in fact, take me seriously, and explain what is true and why it is true regarding absolution, I’d be really grateful.


I am not sure whether you suffer from scrupulosity. It is a possibility here and if so, you should seek professional help and a confessor whom you can trust. This priest is not it. If you are not suffering from scrupulosity then you likewise have a real problem. Priests should not be in the business of telling people that such-and-such is not a bad enough sin to confess unless it really, truly, is not a sin at all. By the same token I would suggest that you look around for another confessor, one whom you can trust, and give up going to this priest, who is not helping you at all, spiritually.


Are you somewhere that offers confession at different places and times? Maybe try to switch it up a little and see if you end up with a different confessor. The two priests I get so far are different in their style in the confessional. One is easy going and gets me laughing and the other is more cut and dry but they both do a wonderful job and I’m lucky. I say poke around the other parishes and see what’s there.


I hope I’m not scrupulous. Thanks for the warning. I’m pretty sure these three things were all mortal sins. Going by the seven deadly sins, my full knowledge I was doing the wrong thing at the time, and doing it anyway. That makes it mortal right?
But what do I do? If I’m not absolved, I still have these same mortal sins on me. If I am absolved and go to another priest about them asking him to absolve me, I’m still in the wrong because I’m being as you said, scrupulous, and doubting the power of God’s absolution over my sin.
How do I know if I got absolved or not?


Since you fully intended to confess them at the appropriate time then they were absolved at that time no matter whether you said them out loud or not. Rest easy, they are already forgiven and absolved and off your conscience. You are obligated to confess them at the next opportunity, though. So seek out a different priest, one who will patiently listen to your whole confession, and one who will not allow you to be tormented by doubt like this. That is truly unjust.


I think this torment is my own doing.

Regardless I’m going to look for a priest who has the both patience to listen to my sins and fears and the guidance to help me avoid sin and fear.

Thanks for the help.


You are lucky you got one out! I went to confession and was verbalizing an internal debate as to whether an issue was a sin or not.
Well the priest ,reasonably, lost patience very early all on, and literally yelled at me saying “You can’t bu… about …” Whereupon he realised he was yelling and then finished in a whisper
" sin, you either sinned or you didn’t." When I left the confessional all I could see was the stares of the waiting penitents. I had to laugh at my silly vanity and saw it as a real opportunity for humility. Priests are only human. Give his a break and thank God for His absolution through This good but human priest.


A friend of mine who was terminally ill and had fallen away from the church years ago asked for a priest while in the hospital. She asked him how to begin a confession that goes back for decades. He said she did not have to list them and gave her absolution, told her to go to a Mass and take communion as the penance. I’m not sure if he called that a penance or that was her interpretation of it.

Anyway I think if each parishioner listed all of their sins, the priests would not have time for anything else.


You also need to be conscious of the priest’s need to hear other people in line.

Thus, you need to be concise. One thing I try to do is think about how to do better. Tell the priest that, and then it is easier for him to make a modification such as: "that is good, but don’t forget “b” and “c”. This can take all of 1 minute, (for confession, reflection, and priest’s reply) if you are concise, and have reflected about it.

If you require some counseling, or need to take significant time to sort something out, then make an appointment to see the priest during the week.

Most parishes allow confession by appointment.

I am no expert on confession, but I agree that your description sounds a lot like scrupulosity.

There are resources out there on confession, I plan to listen to one.

In addition to counseling during the week, you could consider learning more about the sacrament, and about scrupulosity.



Sorry to hear that. Penitents are to confess their mortal sins…does not sound like a case of impossibility (but maybe there was…maybe they were on deaths door and could think of them) --they may have had to approximate at times but they still needed to confess all their mortal sins…and even if the person was on deaths door and had no time – if they survived they would still confess such. One is obliged ordinarily to confess all mortal sins in number and kind.

  1. While the seven so called “deadly sins” can involve mortal sin -not many often also involve venial matter. For example -there can be a kind of pride that is venial matter etc etc (where as sins of lust are grave matter). Normally now those seven are called “capital sins” which helps avoid the confusion.

  2. There are more mortal sins than what is noted by those seven.


Find a different Priest…prepare and then make an appointment to sit down with him for confession.

If scruples are involved -such too can be a time to start addressing such. I am not saying they are – but only if they are.



Besides scrupulosity, it sounds to me as if in the confession more was said by you than only the sin and how many times you did it. When you describe what the priest said/yelled it sounded as if that were the case. I don’t know. Only you would know that. Just a thought.:confused:


Since she had been out of the church for decades, how was she to know which sins are mortal and which are not? Maybe he should have given her checklist.


Many will be very well known by most…(she obviously knew somewhat otherwise she would not have asked…) and the Priest can assist to in her examine… then later -if say the emergency situation passes-- she could be in a better situation to examine without the urgency and time pressure.

In emergency situations for example there may be not much time at all - that can happen. But if I survive such a situation I still need to confess any mortal sins (I am not expected to be a Vulcan -I am only human -I may have to approximate and I may not remember some…but those I do I am to confess.)



The priest has authority to forgive sins. You did not intentionally withhold confessing something. Therefore, in my opinion there is no way that the confession can be invalid.

I don’t like to put labels on people.

You can read about scrupulosity at your leisure:


What I know about it is that it is based on a false perception of God as some sort of prosecuting attorney. The solution involves trusting your confessor.

Your confessor gave you absolution that he has authority to give you.

Trust him.

I also listened to a Lighthouse media CD on confession yesterday by Scott Hahn, the Catholic theologian and former Protestant minister. It was really good.

Good luck.


Find a different Priest…prepare and then make an appointment to sit down with him for confession.



I’m sorry I remain confused, but does that mean he gave me absolution for sins he neither was told nor thought existed. Can he do that?

Would I be right to attribute his confusing words about my sins “not being sins” to the human priest and then the absolution to the priest in persona Christi? And then understand that the in persona Christi authority to forgive my sins completely trumps his personal perception/opinion of my sins? Is that how this works? And it was just the odd scenario this unfolded to in which I received absolution without the intended confession?

Gosh, what was a muddled confession this was! Everything seems to be contradictory, but I think I understand or at least I’m close.

I am going to see a priest I can trust very soon regarding all of this. If what I’ve said above is true, I will ask him to hear that confession which was never said. I will do this to meet that responsibility some mentioned, that I still in need to actually confess these absolved mortal sins. Then if the priest can and is willing, maybe he will provide the guidance and counseling I need for my sins including the possible scrupulous issue.


The absolution is for all sins. If you were physically unable to say them all, then say them next time. They are still absolved as long as you did not intentionally omit any remembered sins. It is the difference between a materially complete and a formally complete confession. Sometimes there is a physical or moral impossibility that excuses a materially complete confession.

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