Doubtful sins in Confession

If you are a little unsure regarding whether something you did was a sin or not, but think it probably was sinful, is it okay to confess it without mentioning your uncertainty?

I know the obvious thing to do would be to mention the uncertainty anyway, but I get nervous in Confession and don’t want to complicate things.


You can say, “I suspected that X was wrong, and I did it anyway, not caring if it was. Even if the act itself was not sinful, my attitude was wrong, and I am sorry.”

Or you can say, “I did X” and let it go at that.

Generally speaking, added information should make the gravity, frequency, or your extent of cooperation with evil more clear, or else explain how you might be more culpable than would be guessed. Don’t make excuses.

What needs be confessed strictly?

if mortal -yes.

If venial – nope. (recommended to confess at least some directly…)

if doubtful “sin” either doubtful “mortal” …nope.

if one is lax -or in need of advice etc and it is a doubtful ‘mortal’ sin – it can be good to mention it–but as doubtful.

And it is recommended for someone with a normal conscience to confess “doubtful mortal sins”

if one is scrupulous or have a tendency etc that way-- and it is doubtful –it is usually advised not to.

Of course as mentioned…any doubtful sin that is confessed…one should say it was doubtful in some way

When one gets the opportunity, one might also might do some research with a reputable source and find out if the act was sinful or not. We do have an obligation to inform our consciences.

And I would submit that some of the work you need to do needs to be done outside Rconcilliation.

I know some people are very sinful. But when there is a long line waiting, and someone gets in there with every possible permutation of non-sinful activity and takes 7, 10 or more minutes, there may be someone else in line who truly needs the sacrament who may be denied.

I am all for confessing one’s sins. However, in general, “spit and git” has some merits. There are plenty of good resources for an examination of conscience and they can be utilized ahead of time. Reconcilliation time is not time for spiritual direction. If you have a problem with scrupulosity, perhaps you should be setting special appointment. And if you don’t know if something is sinful before you get there, then do a little work; the rest of us would like to be able to access the sacrament ourselves.

Some of the issues that come up in these forae are prime examples (one of them -“I looked at someone’s shoes” - for crying out loud) show someone in dire need of catechesis or counseling.

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