Are we obligated to correct a lie?


I told a lie years ago. It wasn’t anything that applies to anyone but myself. I’ve confessed it during reconciliation, but still feel guilty because I haven’t changed the circumstances, people still believe the lie and I keep the truth to myself. The reason I haven’t told the truth to the person I lied to is because it comes with a huge potential to hurt me and my soon to be wife. It’s not a lie that I’d consider a huge thing.

My conflict comes from guilt and the fact that when I was a child I always remember that if someone lied and got caught it was proper for their parents to make sure that the child told the truth to the person they lied to.

How could I insist on my children doing so if I don’t keep myself to that obligation. Is there an exception I’ve missed on this lesson about manners and integrity?


You’ve confessed your lie and I assume received absolution. You are forgiven now forgive yourself!~ Don’t let the devil tempt you with stating you are not forgiven for this for it leads to excessive guilt which is not healthy.

Move forward in peace. If everyone who sinned could not be a good parent and teach our children values then no one would be able to do as such. We move forward and do the best we can, receive the Sacrament when needed and move forward.



This doesn’t make sense. If the lie “wasn’t a huge thing”, how does it have the potential to hurt you and your fiancee?

I’d say that if either the person you told the lie to or your fiancee are actually owed the truth, you need to correct it. Does it involve them, does it affect them in some way? If not, you can keep it to yourself. But if it’s something either one of them has a right to know, they deserve the truth.


This passage from the Catechism may be relevant:
1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”
As MaryT777 wrote in a previous post, you have received absolution, but there is a separate matter of repairing the harm and healing the injury (to yourself and/or others) which your lie has caused. The fact that it still bothers you suggests that some injury remains. Can you heal it by correcting the lie? I am not sure, but you should give it some thought.

It may help to discuss it with a priest, not so much to affirm the absolution of your sin, which we may safely assume is complete, but to seek advice on your options for repairing and healing your relationships.

I have heard that sometimes when we correct a long-standing lie, the results are not as disastrous as we had imagined. The one to whom we lied might say “Aw, forget about it!” or even “I already knew that!”

Even if the response is not so agreeable or forgiving, the correction of a lie may, in the long run, strengthen your relationships with those affected. It demonstrates your intention to be truthful. It demonstrates your strength of character. It may open up your relationships to new, higher levels of honesty and trust.

You said it has “huge potential” to hurt you and your soon-to-be wife. Of course, I don’t know the details and can’t assess the possible harm, but it sounds like you should not do anything rash, and it may be helpful to discuss it in detail with a competent advisor, like a priest, whose independent perspective may offer better guidance than you could possibly get here in the forum.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit