Are penititents obliged to re-confess when priest when gives invalid dispensation from full Confession?

I refer to this recent question:

Recently, during a parish Reconciliation service, the priest advised all present to limit their confession to no more than two mortal sins. He then advised the same penance for all and dismissed us to go to one of the “confessionals.” Is it within a parish priests competence to limit full confession and still have a valid Reconciliation?

The answer given by Fr Serpa was that this the priest has no authority to do this, however that leaves the question of whether the penitents who confessed in good faith as instructed, and omitted one or mortal sins, are obliged to re-confess?

This is certainly not a hypothetical question, as this and similar, abuses of the confessional do occur.

If the penitents are obliged to re-confess, is such binding under pain of sin? Obviously those who are a unaware of the obligation commit no sin, however, once they become aware of it, would it be a sin to not re-confess?


Good question! Even though the confessor does not have the authority to limit the number of sins confessed, this does not, of itself, invalidate the absolution. When we do not deliberately withhold mortal sins, either because we don’t remember them as we are confessing, or because the priest has limited the number of sins one confesses, all of our mortal and venial sins are absolved. However, even though they have been absolved, we do have an obligation to mention such unconfessed sins at our next Confession as an expression of sorrow and repentance. We just tell the priest that such sins have been absolved, but not confessed and we are now confessing them as an act of repentance.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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