Are those struck with total memory loss still accountable to God for sins they can't remember?


Here is a question on morality.

Say an evil person (one who commit many mortal sins such as murder or rape) is struck with total memory loss as a result of an accident and has no memory whatsoever of his past, than is he still accountable to God for his past sins?

If he has no memory of his past, than it is impossible for him to go to confession. Will he go to hell for sins he has literally no way of remembering?


I would say that he is only under obligation to live a Catholic life in relationship with Christ insofar as he can. That means he confesses whatever sins he can remember. Even for those of us who do NOT get stricken with such severe memory loss, if we do not remember some sin or other, then it is covered when we confess the sins we DO remember. That’s why, after a good confession, we are encouraged to say we are sorry “For these and any sins I cannot now remember.” God will not condemn a soul to hell for not confessing a sin that he couldn’t remember. And since a person can confess venial sins in confession if he wishes, I am sure that a person in those shoes could soon find something, however small, to bring to confession if only for the sake of being able to gain the assurance of knowing that ALL his unremembered sins would be forgiven in the sacrament as well.

Now, if someone from the man’s past informed him of the sins he had committed, and he had good reason to believe this person was telling the truth, it might not hurt if he would bring up those things in confession while informing the priest that he was confessing these things “just in case” he had never confessed them before. Perhaps this would be the confessional equivalent of a “conditional baptism.”

The important thing is that, with everything he DOES know, he live the fullest Christian life. If he is doing that, then God will not allow his soul to be lost for things that are completely beyond his control.

Blessings in Christ,


What a wonderful question. But it’s not just memory of
sin- its also contrition. He can’t have contrition for that
which he doesn’t know…

In real life, if he was concerned he could simply go
to Confession and explain to the priest.


He can repent and yes receive the Sacrament of Confession. By his confession of all mortal sins that he recalls or even if he cannot remember any -which is the case here - of any venial sins he is sorry for (like his anger that morning etc…we commit venial sins often)-being sorry for any mortal sins he has forgotten (that is being contrite -repentant -intending to confess all mortal sins) - he can receive absolution. That absolution indirectly absolves the other sins the are “not possible” for him to remember. Such impossibility prevents their integral confession and it excuses from such… But does not prevent his reception of the Sacrament. Now if he later remembers them – they find some drug to cure his memory etc - the then needs to confess them.

Bottom line such is provided for in the Sacramental theology and practice of the Church.


Well, we don’t have to confess anything we honestly can’t remember. Since we can’t. So this is an easy one- even if he committed mortal sins in the past, he’s not going to go to hell if he’s now following God.


Yes, he is still accountable for his sins.
For this reason, we are taught to say at the end of Confession
“for these sins and for those which I cannot remember/recall, I am truly sorry …”

Therefore, we are forgiven of any mortal sins committed before that point of confession


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