Are these sins? Will I need to confess them?

To put it veeery briefly, I was raised Atheist, became Anglican at 15, but the Holy Spirit led me to the Catholic Church fairly recently (yay!) and I’m on my way to becoming Catholic! :smiley:

So…when I was Atheist, I committed (what I later realised were) sins, some of which I’m pretty sure were grave matter. From what I have learned so far in my Catholic-Quest, I dont think they were mortal coz I didnt know they were “sins” at the time and knew nothing about Christianity. But what I DID know was that they were a “bad-thing-to-do” - so I’m slightly confused/uneasy. Are they sins? Are they mortal sins? Will I need to confess them when (hopefully :)) I become Catholic? :confused:

Thanks for your thoughts! Sorry if I seem ignorant! :blush:

if you weren’t baptized as a catholic then you were not under the rules of a catholic

Definitely not mortal sins, how could they be? You didn’t know any better.

As Padre Pio said: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

It’s not a mortal sin if you didn’t know it was a sin, and also, I don’t think you have to confess them because you committed them before you were baptized (or amI misreading something?) and baptism forgives all of those sins.


I hope your journey will be ever grace filled.

I don’t know that there is enough information in your post to make a determination about the acts that you are concerned about. For an act to be a mortal sin three things are needed:

  1. Grave Matter
  2. Knowldege that the act is wrong
  3. Consent

In addition, some acts can be either venial or mortal depending upon the circumstances and the intent of the one commiting the act. Take lying. There’s a difference between telling your aunt that her cake was good, when it wasn’t and lying to destroy someone’s good name.

Again, I do not think that you have provided enough information. You should make an appointment to see a priest and discuss these matters with him. You say that you are on your journey to become a Catholic. I’m assuming that this is in a parish. You should be able to talk with one of the priests there. When you do talk with the priest you will be able to go into detail with him concerning where you were in your life, what acts you did, how much knowledge you had, etc.

I will pray for you.


Hello, Eveangelin! Don’t worry about seeming ignorant. We’re all learning – even those of us who have been Catholic for a while.

So, the short answer is that if you didn’t have full knowledge that something was sinful, you didn’t commit a mortal sin. For it to be mortal, it must be grave matter, you must have full knowledge of its sinfulness, and full consent of the will. If any one of the three conditions is missing, it’s only a venial sin.

If you are un-Baptized, then you will not need to confess any sins from before your Baptism. Baptism washes away ALL sins. You’ll only need to confess any mortal sins you commit after Baptism.

If you are already Baptized, you will need to confess any mortal sins you committed between your Baptism and the time of your first Confession.

While you are not required to confess venial sins, you can if you wish to. Personally, when I became a Catholic, I confessed many things that were objectively sinful but that I didn’t know where sinful at the time. Even though they weren’t mortal, because I didn’t have full knowledge, I confessed them anyway – and I’m glad I did! It was a great weight off my heart. So I recommend confessing all mortal sins, and any venial sins that weigh on you or that you regret.

I’m assuming you will be going to RCIA classes or some other preparation for becoming a Catholic. Hopefully they’ll go over all of this with you (they should!).

God bless!!

This would apply to SOME things, such as the precepts of the Church: If you were never Catholic, obviously you would not be bound to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation or to support the Church, etc. These are laws that specifically apply to Catholics.

If, however, you have committed murder, adultery, stuff like that, these are sins that must be brought to Confession, regardless of whether or not you were Catholic when you did it. You must be in a state of grace (having brought all this junk to Confession, without deliberately holding anything back) in order to receive Confirmation or Holy Communion in the Catholic Church. You do NOT have to go to Confession before receiving Christian baptism, because that wipes the slate clean; but if you became Anglican at 15, may I assume that you were also baptized?

The three things necessary for mortal sin:
It must be grave matter (serious stuff - like ‘I had an abortion’, not ‘I stole candy’).
It must be done freely (you weren’t forced to do it, you had a choice - no one can be forced into commiting a mortal sin, even if it involves grave matter).
You must know that its wrong (its one of those “bad-thing-to-do” things. You can’t commit mortal sin in your sleep, or if you don’t have the mental capacity to properly judge right from wrong; you have to know what you are doing).

If any of these three is missing, you have not committed mortal sin. However, if there is the reasonable possibility that the matter was serious, you knew it was a “bad-to-do”, and you consented freely, definitely bring it to Confession.

I have on occasion taken several hours to make my confession… it’s best to make an appointment with your priest if this is necessary.

In your case it may be prudent to discuss the issues under the seal of confession with your priest.While the Sacrament of Baptism will was away the spiritual guilt for those sins, discussing them in Confession can go a long way to addressing some of the temporal effects, (including psychological ones) and helping you assess where your repentance may be less than complete.

this is a great blessing to us.

This is of course in no way required - but you may find it very useful.

I think you should read the Catechism of the Catholic Church which discusses sin and repentence pretty thoroughly. Then examine your conscience on the matters in question and try to determine whether or not you were invinceably ignorant. That may be difficult. But a normal adult, even an antheist should know that certain things are serious sins. Perhaps these are things you should discuss with the priest who is in your parish and who may be the one hearing your first confession. As a former Anglican you should have known the commandments fairly well. But if you still cannot decide then you can just confess these things as " of doubtful culpability " and leave it in God’s hands. All he expects of us is honesty, he doesn’t demand perfect knowledge. So if you have been honest, he will forgive these sins. So, have no fear.



yea you don’t have to confess those sins sins you didn’t know

but if it bothers you, go ahead and confess them anyway , and you will receive absolution

Thank you for all the replies! :slight_smile:

I’ve realised I missed out quite a crucial detail from the OP - Although my parents are Atheist, and I was raised so, my brother and I were baptized in the Church of England as babies because my dad’s father was a “devout” Christian; he persuaded them to. That probably changes a lot! So when I “became” Anglican, I rather “returned”, even though I had known nothing to begin with…

I will definately discuss this further with my priest, when I can pluck up the courage! :smiley:

Ah, okay. In that case, when you make your first confession, you will be obligated to confess all mortal sins (as best as you can remember) from the age of reason to present. Age of reason is the age at which you know right from wrong…basically, you’ll need to confess every mortal sin as far back as you can remember (a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the idea ;)).

It sounds scary, but God doesn’t expect the impossible. I still occasionally remember some sinful thing that I did in my past that I hadn’t remembered in previous confessions. As long as I don’t INTENTIONALLY withhold something, the confession is valid. I just need to mention it at my next confession and it doesn’t invalidate previous ones. So don’t worry about missing something, as long as you’ve been honest.

In my case, I was Baptized after the age of reason (I was 11 years old). So when I became a Catholic, I had to confess every mortal sin I could recall from then forward…meaning, my entire teenage years. So I had a lot my first time ;).

The good news is that we only need to say what we did and how many times. I joked in my RCIA class that I would need a day-long appointment to confess all my sins, but in truth it takes about the same amount of time to say, “I yelled at my parents two times last week” as it takes to say, “I yelled at my parents many times every week over ten years.” So my first Confession did end up taking longer than most of my subsequent ones, but not by much.

God bless!

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