Do priests generally remember confessed sins?


I've confessed a few things I've never told anyone before. The experience of being forgiven was very meaningful for me.

However, in addition to the sacrament itself, I got a kind of comfort from "someone else knowing." Obviously, God knows my sins, but for another human to know these particular sins was a huge relief - something off my chest, feeling less alone, less like I was hiding. At my confession, I talked about the weight that I had been carrying around for years, and my priest gave me good advice.

I would never bring it up, but I often wonder if my priest remembers what I confessed.

I know that priests cannot reveal anything they hear in the confessional, but do they generally remember?


Our priest said he did not remember. He couldn’t explain why.


Probably to avoid a near occasion of sin.


They hear so many confessions, I can’t see them remembering everything. Although, I’m sure they may remember some things, who knows? It kind of depends on the how good the priest’s memory is :D.


Probably because what an individual who confesses may think is unique to them, a priest has heard many times before from others.


A priest might remember a particularly heinous or dramatic sin (like a mass murderer confessing,) but I doubt he’d be able to associate the sin with a particular penitent, particularly if the old fashioned confessional “boxes” are in use. We’re a little guilty of pride in reverse, wouldn’t you think, if we thought that our sins were so horrendous that Father would be sure to remember them, and think the worse of us for that, wouldn’t you agree?

Nope, most of us are pretty garden variety, dime a dozen, seen one, seen 'em all sinners.

It doesn’t matter, anyways, even in the case of the mass murderer penitent I gave above: A priest is under the seal of absolute secrecy of the confessional. The most he could do would be to withhold absolution until the mass murderer turned himself in (to serve as evidence of true contrition,) and I’m not even sure he could do that. He cannot share what is confessed there under any circumstances whatsoever, on pain of sin and excommunication. Through the centuries, some priests have been martyred for not revealing the contents of a penitent’s confession to public authorities.

In the case of us run of the mill sinners, I doubt any priest in his right mind would want to remember any of that junk. I feel sorry for them to have to listen to this stuff, and hope they have a bottle of aspirin stashed someplace in the confessional!


I doubt it remember they have heard it all before and hear many, many confessions over the last confession you have made.


Well, they don’t remember my sins! We have standard confessionals which are completely private and anonymous, and there are so many confessions I doubt that can remember sins from one confession to the next.


I have heard many priests say that, as soon as the penitent has exited the confessional, they have forgotten what was confessed.


If they remember it, then it goes to the grave with them.

At the end of the day it is the same thing. :shrug:



Nope. He can’t require a penitent to reveal his sins, since that would defeat the purpose of the seal. Of course one could sincerely repent of something without wanting to be punished for it.


[quote="vindicated, post:2, topic:326362"]
Our priest said he did not remember. He couldn't explain why.


I've always thought it was a special grace given to priests.

(And, I'm joking here, another reason women shouldn't be priests- we remember everything :p)


Literally every priest I’ve ever spoken to has said that they don’t remember the sins confessed to them. I think there’s a few different reasons for this. One of course is that, as has been said, priests hear a lot of confessions, and it’s probably mainly the same set of sins. As a priest I’d imagine hearing a lot more masturbation confessions than murder confessions. It gets repetitive and, if not boring, certainly not very memorable.

On the more mystical side, I suspect priests are assisted with the grace necessary to forget them, so as to conduce to a more effective ministry. It may even be possible that, their souls being the ontological image of Christ, that they forget because Christ himself forgets, because absolution doesn’t just affect a kind of juridical absolution but the actual, literal destruction of your sins.


One of my Parish Priests told us, in rcia, not to be worried about what he will think of us after we confess. He told us that priests have heard everything. He himself said he thinks he heard it all only about 6 months into being ordained. So nothing you say will shock them. He also told us that sometimes he can remember what sin a person confessed if the person who confessed brings it up to him at a latter time and reminds him. But he said even then, sometimes he still cannot remember. He told us the reason for this is because he does not want to remember our sins. He told us he does not want to think about other peoples sins. So in a way, selective memory kicks in I guess.

So I guess the answer is, yes they can remember sins but they really don’t want to so they tend to forget them.


I think it differs for some. When you are active in a parish and the priest knows you, he will somehow remember. Especially if you have talked to him face to face before or have done a face to face confessional, which they do sometimes due to how busy confession can get.

But for the most part, they shouldn’t remember.:slight_smile:


Our wonderful priest told us that he and the other seminarians were counseled during their priestly formation to do everything they could to cast the sins of confession away from themselves because if they kept them they would become burdened far beyond what they could bear.


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