Baptism & Confession


Why is all punishment due to sin removed at Baptism but not at Confession? Aren’t both sacraments through the merits of Christ? What’s the difference? If one sacrament can remove all punishment due to sin why not the other?


Good question :wink:

I would like to look into this some, and also see some good replies. I dont think all consequences of sin is removed at Baptism, strictly speaking. It may in fact be more closely related to confession than you are assuming. John the baptist warns the pharisees to show fruits of repentance.

There can be many aspects that are related to this question. I will be back to learn more.



From the Summa:

“(B)y Baptism a man is incorporated in the Passion and death of Christ, according to Romans 6:8: “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ.” Hence it is clear that the Passion of Christ is communicated to every baptized person, so that he is healed just as if he himself had suffered and died. Now Christ’s Passion… is a sufficient satisfaction for all the sins of all men. Consequently he who is baptized, is freed from the debt of all punishment due to him for his sins, just as if he himself had offered sufficient satisfaction for all his sins.”

The same is not true of confession, thus only the eternal punishment due for our sins is removed in the confessional.


I would suggest that the answer to this question lies in the effects & graces of the sacraments & what they confer; in Baptism, one receives forgiveness of all sins, becomes “a new creature,” becomes engrafted into the Church/Body of Christ, forms a sacramental bond with all the baptized, & the receive an indelible mark on their soul.

With the sacrament of Penance, those who have been baptized & have received all the graces of the sacrament of Baptism must be restored to God’s grace and intimate friendship with God. Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. The penitent needs to be reconciled us with the Church & all of creation because the sin the penitent has committed damages and/or even ruptures his/her communion with God & the Church that he/her first received in Baptism. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores this.

With sin, there is what we call double consequence: separation from God & attachment to that which is not God. Mortal sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, but even venial sins themselves entail harmful attachments (i.e., the “temporal punishment” of sin), which must be purified either during our temporal life on earth, or in Purgatory. This purification is necessary because of the very nature of sin.

The forgiveness of sin & restoration of communion with God that takes place in the sacrament of Penance truly involves the absolution of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains, which acts as a sort of grace for us. It calls us to works of mercy, charity, prayer, & various acts of penance, to put off completely the “old man” that we once were before Baptism & to put on the “new man” that Baptism made us for.

Does that help?


I think I understand. Baptism inaugurates a person into a new life of communion with Christ and his Church. A new life means the past life is done away with. Whereas Confession renews the person into the same communion of Christ and his Church.

I understand a plenary indulgence is attached to the Anointing of the Sick. If this is so, why isn’t it also attached to Confession? I suspect to avoid abuse of the Sacrament of Confession?


St Thomas Aquinas explains why Baptism is more effective than Confession by saying that Baptism is a “full participation” in the merits of Christ and Confession is only a “partial participation” in his merits.


How did St Thomas come to this conclusion? What’s the evidence for this conclusion?


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