Confessing venial sins


I’ve been scrupulous for two years but I’ve improved quite a bit over the last month or so. I haven’t been to confession in 5 weeks (down from a peak of 3 times in 8 days at one point), and I haven’t posted any, “Is this a sin?” questions on CAF for several weeks. I often get impure intrusive thoughts,which sometimes I don’t feel I consent to at all, and other times I feel I may give partial consent. I am going to confession tomorrow and have committed no mortal sins to my knowledge. I was going to confess my thoughts in the following way: “Quite a few times this month, I’ve been concerned that I may have consented to impure thoughts or desires, but in each instance I had doubts that I gave full consent. So I leave the final judgement up to God and ask for His mercy for whatever consent I may have given.” But now I’m kind of concerned about being more specific about what TYPE of impure thoughts I’ve had. For instance, some have been same sex or even worse. If I felt I had fully consented to or deliberately entertained a thought, knowing full well it was evil, I would be more specific about the type, but do I need to be as specific if I feel the consent was venial? I don’t want to aggravate my scruples by getting carried away during confession (and end up making intrusive thoughts even worse afterward), but I also don’t want to make a bad confession. Thanks.


I think that the only answer here is that you express these exact thoughts with your confessor. If someone here says that you should refrain from details then your concern will remain and if someone says to disclose all of the details then you will continue to feel scrupulous. The truth lies in the middle and no one here can determine that line for you. I say that this is a weakness that you will probably have to deal with in the future and so you need a definitive answer tailored to your situation. So, bring a copy of your post, if you need to, and explain to the priest exactly what you stated here. Then you will know that you made a good confession and you will also know how to deal with this in the future. This forum is awesome and I have received great advice here but for this you need to go directly to your confessor. I hope this helps and pray for me as I share in similar concerns. You are in my prayers…


Dearest Veronica,

You already know the pattern with your sufferings of scrupulosity. It is your scrupulosity that you need help with getting under control.

This OCD/scrupulosity is the entire issue. You know you can not read and interpret what you should do for a valid confession. With scrupulosity - you will self doubt endlessly. Advise on Confession on the internet will only give you more self-doubt.

Only speak with your confessor about your confession and obey him.

May you have courage to approach your priest and listen to what he says and follow him. May you stop searching for Confession rules and stop asking for Confession help on-line. May you seek help for your scrupulosity. God Bless you.


This is quite a common question for Catholics. I mean “question” in the general sense, and not just in CAF.

The answer is that you do not need to go into detail, and, in general, shouldn’t, although you may do so if it is troubling you.

See How specific in confession? [CAF - Ask An Apologist]


If a person has committed a sexual sin, such as pornography or masturbation, can the sin in name only be given?** Or do you have to go into detail about what kind of porn it was (like if it was homosexual in nature, soft vs hard, etc.) or in the other case, what you fantasized about (like if it were a really dark fantasy)?**

(emphasis added)


You need to name the sin. But you don’t have to go into detail.
For example, just saying “fornication” is enough. One would not have to explaine more about it–unless the priest asks for clarification. When I hear Confessions, if the person confesses having stolen, I always ask what it was that was stolen. It could be five dollars or a Honda SUV. The sin needs to be clearly stated.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

As to your struggles with scrupulosity, I don’t see a problem with putting questions like this, which have a standard answer, to CAF, while you work on any personal issues with your confessor.

I have made confessions with words very similar to the ones you suggest, namely admitting impure thoughts (without being specific) and saying that I believe that I didn’t consent, but I am not sure, and leaving the judgement to God. The priest has never commented.

closed #5

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