How exactly does a priest forget the sins you confessed?


I don’t know how I forget. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s that sins are so repetitive. Maybe it’s something psychological about confession, i.e. my mind just knows not to record that. I have pretty good recall on almost everything else, but even when I try to make myself remember confessions, all I get is vague recollections of having heard a confession and little else.

But there’s no special training or anything. I really have no idea how it happens. It just does.



Ask your local garbage man what the grossest thing they’ve seen in the trash is.
They likely won’t have much of an answer.


A newly ordained priest heard confessions for two hours and could honestly say that he couldn’t remembering anything afterwards. His braincells were “more than a bit fried” and he had to really concentrate and focus on the lecture he gave afterwards. I felt sorry for him.


I go to several different priests for confessions, I don’t have necessarily one regular confessor and not necessarily at my own parish. For me that’s helpful when it comes to worrying about things like that.


In my former parish, priests hear confessions for 35 minutes each weekday before the afternoon daily Mass and another hour on Saturdays. The average time per confession is about 2 minutes. Confessions are behind the screen. To me the question is not how a priest could forget all those confessions, but how he could possibly remember them even if he wanted to.


Well firstly… we have a lot of pride thinking we are so important in a priests life. I mean no offence, but unless you live in a really rural hamlet and even then…a priest is a busy man.
Also remember that God is mighty and there is nothing He can’t do. I have certainly felt His influence on me before in ways I can’t explain so I certainly believe God could do that and what is more, He loves us so He would.


It’s called “grace of state.”


This is what my priest has told me. He said that in all of his years as a priest, he only remembers two sins that he associates with specific people and they were not people that he knew.


Envy isn’t a big one for me. Sloth, anger, pride…
Lord have mercy.


I still don’t quite understand. When I see my regular confessor with a sin I’ve dealt with before he continues the spiritual guidance. I don’t have to rehash all the players and circumstances. He remembers


I have the same situation with my own regular Confessor. He is the same one that tells me he doesn’t remember specific sins. But he does know me well and he does know, in general, my struggles. He knows my family and my life situation, my personality, my strengths and weaknesses. Some of this knowledge he has gained from hearing my confessions, some of it he has gained from interacting with me in other aspects of life. I doubt that he even knows which knowledge comes from which situations.


Perhaps the priest knows the general area of what you sin in from memory or whatever but can’t remember the exact sin.

For example, if I confessed masturbation with an amount of 15 times, the priest may not remember 15 but might remember M, or at the minimum might remember that I struggle with lust


I think it’s more likely that a priest hears many things and does not try to remember them. But I don’t think there’s some supernatural amnesia that happens. If a youth minister was in a face to face confession and confessed an extramarital affair with one of the teens that the priest would simply just “not remember” that’s why they have to be bound by the seal. If there was no memory there would be no binding of the seal to ever worry about.


My bad–envy is only #2 for women. Pride is #1, as someone on this thread suggested. I was referencing this study. The data was compiled over many years. There can certainly be exceptions and outliers.


I’m a lay person. Friends have told me the particular sins they struggle with. They have just unburdened themselves I guess and are seeking support and understanding, perhaps advice. I don’t judge them. I listen attentively and am sympathetic, realising I too am a sinner. How could I possibly judge them knowing that I too struggle and often fall?

I don’t treat them any differently. In fact I feel more love and compassion for them if anything as


Like this.


Good question. This has puzzled me, also.

Perhaps it’s like the doctor again. After I walk into my doctor’s surgery, during the introduction he’ll recall who I am and then the general background and whatever we are working on at the moment (say, blood pressure), but if he were to bump into me in the street he’d barely recognise me.

My mother was an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and one of the most sought after in our city. During a pregnancy she managed everything superlatively, right up to the delivery, and then afterwards she forgot. She says that women would greet her in the street saying “Remember me, I was the one who…?” (and likely show the baby she’d delivered), and she’d have no idea, and barely even recognise the person.

Funny how memory works. We can store away little things for years, to have them reemerge. But other things are just wiped out, almost immediately.


Sloth and gluttony are mine. Too old to have a dog in the “Lust” race. Mercifully!


Yeah, I’m “aging out” as well and it’s a relief.

Impatience is my other big one. Every confession…


I suppose it’s a special grace.

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