How SPECIFIC does one need to be when cofessing mortal sin?

Many types of sexual acts are mortal weather it is masturbation, watching pornography, going to a topless club, or a married couple engaging in a 3 way. During confession, can one be general and confess that they engaged in improper sexual acts or does one have to be specific and confess an act specifically?

as with all sin you just give the normal accurate verb and noun that describes it. leave out the adjectives and adverbs unless the priest asks for more information. You have no trouble using the actual words here, why would it be a problem in confession?

“Improper acts” is not a confession it is an evasion.


My suggestion (and I agree with puzzleannie’s statement) confession, is not a time to be … evasive. Not in terms of our mortal sins. While it is true that all those are improper, impure, and whatnot, but each one is different. Watching pornography on television (where ever) is not the same as going to a bar with nudity, etc.

Jesus already knows what is in your heart and all you have done. Yet he loves us and calls us back always.

One should describe the actions so that the priest can understand what you are saying.For instance:I was watching an impure video and I abused myself.Most priest would understand that you were watching some pornographic video and you masturbated.You don’t have to describe the nitty gritty details but the priest has to know this information in order to counsel you and prescribe the penance you shhould perform.It helps to tell the number of times and how often because he may be able to understand your problem better.Remember the priest is there in place of Christ not only to give you absolution but he wants you to be able to overcome the problem.

Thank you Valentino for being kind with your response!! I really appreciate those who can respond with kindness!! :slight_smile:


One must be specific (not too detailed…but specific…)…like "watching pornography 2x, masturbation 1x…etc

For mortal sins…one needs number and kind (and circumstance that changes the sin…like the person you murdered was your brother)

It’s actually required when confessing mortal sins. Mortal sins must be confessed in both number and kind, as well as any circumstances which may have affected the severity of the sin.

So are some mortal sins worse than others?? I know in my eyes murder would be a worse sin than say self pleasure, but how does God feel about this? I feel silly asking these questions as I am a cradle Catholic, but I am trying to get a true grasp of this.

Yes, in fact even the circumstances can make the same sin even more grave, which is why you must confess circumstances as well. For example, murdering a complete stranger is grave. Murdering one of your parents is even graver.

Here, this should help you out. It’s penanceware, so you have to do penance for each one you use, but they’re very helpful for different aspects of Catholicism. Start at the “Homilies given by Fr. Ripperger in Kansas City” and go to “How to Make a Good Confession.” There’s more files on confession, which I highly suggest listening to. The first one is what helped me out the most.

LoveDivine:thanks for that info.

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