Confession of past mortal sins

I came back to the church nearly 2 years ago and went to confession. After several confessions of mentioning past mortal sins I was told not to mention the past again. I have been to several confessors since and they have let me bring up some sins and then told me not to mention any more mortal sins from my past. I have been told on numerous occasions that by saying that I have sinned against the 6th commandment that I need not mention any more sins of impurity from the past. I have completely stopped committing any of these sins of impurity since my return to the church.However there are some past sins of impurity that I have not yet confessed.

I understand that the church requires you to confess all mortal sins from the past. Should I go by the advise I have been given by these priests.


Yes. Once you have gone through confession and done your best to admit these past things I think the Church teaches that all other sins of a similar nature are automatically forgiven as well. I mean, God is not some kind of score-keeper where He is counting each sin committed on an abacus and then only taking off the ones you confess. He is really just making sure that you confess so that you improve. Once you have made the effort to improve it seems counterproductive to bring up past things that you no longer are having problems with. This is supposed to be all about forward momentum, not dwelling in the past–which is ironic advice from me if you knew me, but whatever.

I have had the SAME experience w/ this,
the only thing I will suggest is to heed the
advice of the priest(s), ALL mortal sins are
forgiven you at absolution, even those that
you had NOT mentioned in confession.
Just move on and bask in the confidence
that your pass sins have been removed “as
far as the East is from the West”!!

So long as you did not omit any mortal sins on purpose, but merely did not recall them at the time of confession, all your sins are forgiven. I felt similarly compelled to try and confess every sin from my past life as some swam up to the surface even years later, however that was due to my conscience becoming more fully engaged and memories occasionally still come to mind that had been buried many years ago. If you can honestly say that you scoured your memory banks and made a good confession, all your sins have been forgiven. from now on, focus on what is currently happening in your life and use the examination of conscience to help you realize ways you are failing to follow Our Lord these days. Jesus knows your heart better than you do. Rely on Him.

Jimmy Akin -senior apologist at Catholic Answers:

"A reader writes:

I am aware that if one goes to confession and supplies the requisite contrition, then all sins which the person committed are absolved–provided that the person does not intentionally conceal any mortal sins.


Also, I have been told by several priests that this means that if one remembers a mortal sin after confession, they should know that they are forgiven for it so long as they mention it the next time they go to confession.

Correct, though this should be formulated a little differently. You are forgiven if you meant to confess all your mortal sins and just forgot one. Having been forgiven of the one you forgot, you are still obligated to confess it the next time you go to confession."

I note the first part due to the fact that so many eyes read these pages and they need to know what the obligation is (confess all mortal sins in number and in kind).

Now …

Can there be some cases where someone may need to be directed not to confess anything from the past? Where there is an exception to the requirement? That which excuses from an integral confession? Yes there can be. A confessor would be able to guide one.

(And Jimmy Akin too notes that there can be exceptions.)

Once you were given absolution for mortal sins…they are forgiven & forgotten …if a mortal sin was not confessed and you remember it…It should be confessed the next time you go to confession.

Thanks for your replies.

I suppose the main issue is that 3 different priests have told me not to go into any detail about sins against the 6th commandment - to mention that I have sinned against the 6th commandment and leave it at that - so there are some sins against the 6th commandment that have never been confessed, and some perhaps in not enough detail. I have been told that God has already forgiven me my sins so I need not worry - however, the church says to name each mortal sin in kind and number.

I was thinking of mentioning this again to another priest and then just going by what he says. I want to obey the priest - it’s easier not to have to confess these at all - but I just want to make sure that I’ve done everything ok regarding confession.

I can confirm this. My FSSP confessor mentioned that if I confessed a particular sin well, there is no need to re-confess forgotten instances of the same sin again that later come to mind. This was especially consoling to know. So for example, of one had a past life involving, say, multiple instances of premarital sex and then there is repentance, but the problem is that you don’t remember how many times, so you give an estimate. That makes it perfectly fine.

If later, you remember further instances of the same sin that throws the previous estimate off, there is NO need to confess.

One is obliged to give number and kind. Saying it was simply “against 6th commandment” is NOT fulfilling the obligation to confess in number and kind.

(Normally one is to give number and kind for mortal sins - adultery 2x, fornication 2x …)

But again as I noted above - if one is in the circumstances of an “exception” to this- one would be directed by ones confessor. That is an “exception” - not the norm for all the rest of us.

You may be in such a circumstance of such an excusing exception- your confessor can direct you if so.

If they have been confessed already in number and kind in the past - and one is simply wishing to add at the end of ones normal confession “and all the sins of my life against the 6th commandment” that is fine.* For they have already been confessed before in number and kind.*

Yes, if you say I broke the 1st commandment., which is, “I am the Lord thy God, thou shall have no strange gods before Me”…because you were playing a lot of soccer and you felt soccer was your “god”…the priest may get the false idea you were worshiping some statue of a pagan idol.
You must give an accurate description of the sin…ex. - I stole, I used dirty language, etc.

If three separate priests have told you to stop confessing of these past mortal sins, then it seems clear that they believe you have sufficiently confessed of them already. If you have doubts, ask one (or all) of these priests why they have advised you as they have.

If it was just one priest, we may think perhaps he’s being a bit too soft. But three priests?

If you will not listen to the direction of three separate priests, who have God-given authority over you in confession, then why would you listen to the advice of internet strangers here?

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