Can Confessor really judge between Mortal and Venai Sin

I recently went to confesswion and regarding one sin that I thouroughly explained. I tried to pin the priest down on whether it was in fact a mortal or venial sin but he would not answer the question. Have you had this experience before? Can a priest really make an accurate judgement that a sin was mortal or venial? Yes, it was grave matter with full knowledge but the completely “deliberate consent” or however you wish to phrase it was ambiguous. I found his response perturbing, though that is beside the point. I really wanted an anser and he would not give it. Another priest called me a legalist when I asked him something similar.
But I think it matters, expecially, if you’re wondering if you can receive communion or not…etc. (as usual multiple questions rolled into one)

Nobody human know a persons mind, other than what is told, assuming it is truth. So the penitent must determine through examination of conscience, what is mortal or venial, if not confessing all sins (mortal and venial). The penitent may need help from the priest in determining grave matter.

What difference does it make, if you confessed it and received absolution?

Something else that may help is that venial sins lead to mortal sins, and that the mortal sin requires the grave matter, sufficient reflection, and free consent. In some cases the consent is lacking freedom.


1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

1863 Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.” 134

Offenses against chastity [which may apply to other kinds of sin]

2352 … To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

Be happy to get absolution. Start fresh. If you feel you are backsliding, then go to confession again.

Sometimes long explanations cause more confusion than short explanations.

Just be pleased with absolution. And then it doesn’t matter at that point because you are then free and clear.

Sign up for seminars in your parish and diocese or neighboring parishes and dioceses.

Learning is a life-long effort.

Formation of our own minds and informed consciences takes a long time and a lot of grace.

Never stops.

Buy books.

Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Subscribe the the Catholic Answers Magazine.

Subscribe to Scrupulous Anonymous.

Changing ONE WORD can change the entire meaning of a thought.

OR some words have slightly different shades of meaning to some people.

One of the best books I ever bought was the Websters Dictionary of Synanonyms and Antonyms. It uses each word in a sentence that clearly shows the differences. Different from a Thesaurus.


I have two problems with this:

(a) You’re asking us to comment on conversations we didn’t hear, and to make judgments of details we aren’t privy to;

(b) You’re kind of asking us to second-guess your confessors or, in some way, decide whether they were correct or not in the way they’ve guided you.

I think both of those things are a bit unfair.

So your question is - When in doubt about whether my sin is mortal or venial should I receive communion? Right?

It isn’t unusual for a priest to be hesitant to answer. A good spiritual director would need to work with you on this. The reason for lack of clarity is because it depends on where you are… A person with a lax conscience should not receive if in doubt, a person with a scrupulous conscience should receive if in doubt.

If your wondering, and genuinely concerned, then don’t receive until you go to confession. I generally don’t worry about such things because it tends to lead me to legalism or bitterness, and is a path to scruples. What matters is where your heart is and what your doing about it.

I don’t see why a priest would make a judgement on you that involves elements of your own conscience. There would be more likelihood of harm coming from it than good.

If the confessor judges that you have a solid concept of what mortal sin is, then your own conscience would be a better judge than the confessors.

The priest is standing *in persona Christi. *

Be at peace.

Thanks for the responses. However, one of my most primary queries is the thesis, a priest is not able to discern between mortal sin and venial sin in all circumstances. Quite likely the fault lies with me. Its probably my own deficiency of character that gets me so irritated when I ask a direct question to a person and they will not answer it or even say that they simply don’t know one way or another. Yes, I should be happy with absolution. I think the main thing that I learned from that confession is that one really ought to find a Confessor that one has a good rapport with and keep going to that priest.

The last time I went to confession, during a men’s retreat, the confessor … a very senior retired priest … with unlimited amounts of time available … listened patiently to me … and then said he had absolutely NO IDEA what my sin was or what commandment that I thought I broke, … but that I was obviously sincere … and then he gave me absolution.

I spent the next month trying to reformulate my wording.

My pastor said I have the scruples and gave me his blessing.

Dear God,
Your child needs affirmation on what is veniel and mortal sins. Holy Spirit enlighten his spirit w your knowledge and remind him, if confessed & absolved,
It is gone, cast into the sea of forgetfullness.
Caste your burdens on the Lord, he’ll take them from you.
A mortal sin involves deep thought and preparing
before carrying out the deed. Google," 6 sins that God abhors." Pride is the worse.
St. Gemma, St. Bernadette, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II continue our prayers in heaven. Jesus bring this sweet child’s thoughts to your Father. Let clarity prevail and your love surround her.
In Jesus name,

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