Duty of Reparation and Lying?



I read this paragraph of the CCC and it kind of shocked me:

“**2487 **Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.”

Uhhh, I’m a convert, and I’ve lied more times than I can event count. However, my lies have never (to the best of my knowledge) hurt anyone or caused anyone to suffer. They were always either either lies of convenience or lies for sympathy/pity or whatever. And even know, I admit that even since I started RCIA and everything, I have told a prof or two that I was sick when I wasn’t and things like that (I know that was wrong, too).

Does that paragraph seriously mean that we have a moral obligation to tell everyone all the things we ever lied to them about? Not only would that hurt me (my grades, trust, and reputation with loved ones/professors/etc.), but it would also hurt THEM (I mean my loved ones) to hear a litany of confessions of all the times I lied to them, and I think it would also hurt them even to know some of the lies I told.

None of the lies I told have me in a position where I have to continue to lie in order to keep them up; they’re old and gone. I confessed them and, since no one else’s life had been harmed by my actions, assumed that my moral obligation at that point was just to try not to lie anymore in the future. No confessor ever even hinted that I should tell anyone that I had lied to them, and I’ve confessed lying to several.

What does that paragraph of the CCC mean? I’m panicking just thinking about having to tell all my loved ones, professors, colleagues, etc. about all the lies I’ve ever told! Please help!

Thanks and God bless.


“This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the** extent of the damage inflicted**.”

If the lies are “little white lies” and no damage was inflicted, and more harm than good would result from dredging up the past, I would just let it go and resolve to be truthful from now on. If you have been a habitual liar in the past, perhaps a good penance would be for you to get some counseling to find out why you are compelled to lie so much, especially if you still have those tendencies. If your conscience is still bothering you, maybe you could make a “general confession” to those you have lied to the most, not going into every little detail, but telling them in general terms that as part of your spiritual journey, you are striving to be more honest and that you hadn’t always been truthful with them in the past. If they ask for examples, you could list one or two, but IHMO there is no need to go into every little fib as long as no harm came from it. I’m no priest or religious, just offering my :twocents:

Welcome home to the Church! Good luck and God bless.


This is something that you need to talk over with a priest in confession. When I went to my first confession certain sins I had carried the guilt from decades ago and I worried how I could make amends for them. I not going go into detail, but the priest gave me a penance which I perform anytime those feelings of guilt try to raise their ugly heads. It would’ve been impossible to make direct amends for those sins, but with counseling with the priest there was a solution. God is good and He has it figured out - :slight_smile:


God isn’t an accountant. He knows that most of us don’t have the opportunity, or indeed the ability, to atone exactly for each and every one of our sins on this earth.

Just keep an eye open for opportunities to do extra kindnesses to those you’ve lied to in the past (even simply pray for them if nothing else is possible).


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