How specific to be in confession regarding sexual sins

How specific does one need to be when confessing serious sexual sins?

Just a few words about the nature and circumstances of the sin should be enough.

Sometimes its good to start with the virtue that the sin is against. For example,
'I’ve sinned against purity four times since my last confession." Then If Father wants clarification, he’ll ask.

You need only confess the type of sin, and the number of times you committed them, not the gory details. Example Confession: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last confession. Here are my sins: I committed the sin of adultery three times. I committed the sin of self abuse (masterbation) four times. I committted the sin of looking at pornography five times. I committed the sin of impure thoughts six times. etc., etc. etc. That’s all, Father.”

Does that help?

For mortal sins (sexual sins are grave matter for such) Number and kind and circumstance that changes the sin (like it was your brother you murdered…).


Fornication 2x
Adultery 3x
Lustful thoughts 3x

Here this will help:

From the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers:

In confession the priest does not need a clear understanding of the sin. He can have a confused understanding. He shouldn’t be too curious or ask too many questions. If it feels intrusive find another confessor.

I often state a clear view and our priest reframes it in a more vague way for me. I guess encouraging me to be less specific. He’ll reframe, “so you sinned against the 10th commandement 5 times”. Coveting women, goods, etc.

Also, it’s good to realize that confession is a powerful tool for the life long conversion of moving closer to God. I had stopped going to confession and returned for the first time in decades. I dare say I did not do too well, but Father was merciful as he always is and gave me a green light to receive Holy Communion properly after a confession. A glorius day. I’ve been going regularly ever since.



Unfortunately in regards to mortal sin the priest gave you bad advice.

One MUST be specific in mortal sins adultery 2x etc. The Church is clear in this regards.

(though one could say it in various ways…it can not be “general”)

The Priest needs to know what the sin was.

In fact we are obliged to confess all mortal sins in number and kind ( and what would change the sin …like it was your brother you murdered.

This too can be helpful from the senior apologist at Catholic Answers (in particular the second half)

Though of course it can be that you were confessing a bunch of venial sins and so he was leading you to be less detailed in a particular case (though it is fine and good to name what it was one did…)

That should have read “in particular the FIRST half”

Exactly. Most sexual sins have one word names which are clear and unambiguous. That’s the level of specificity needed. Short and to the point.

What about sins you don’t remember? Like if it’s been years since confession?

You examine diligently


if you forget something …(it can be forgiven with the rest) …one is obliged to confess in the next confession…

if one never realizes it was forgotten but were contrite etc and were trying to confess all ones mortal sins…it was forgiven with the rest…no worries.

What if you can’t remember the number of times you committed a sin?

How specific would you be to your doctor when describing how you contracted an STD? The doctor doesn’t need any gory details of the acts but surely needs to know what you did so that he can treat you. A priest is the doctor of the soul. He cannot treat anyone who hides their actions. As embarrassing as it may be to tell your doctor what you did, it is equally embarrassing to confess sexual sins. But the cure is worth all of the humility that is required. And the cure is eternal unlike what you will receive from a physician… teachccd

Give an estimate, to the best of your ability. You could say, “Father, I don’t recall how many times I did X, but it was probably at least 6 times, but not more than 12.” Or, “Father, I did x many many times, but I honestly can’t remember the specific number of times.” Or, “Father, I probably did X almost daily over the past two weeks, since my last confession, I may have not done it some days, I may have done it more than once other days; I simply cannot recall.” You do the best you can, and give what is the closest you can recall. Don’t fret over your inability to remember an exact number, we are human and it can be hard to recall such details. The priest will understand.

hi all,

a newbie to this forum…I’m a new convert to Catholicism though have been attending masses and protestant services in my teens. now i’m in my 40s. since baptism in April 2011, I’ve been to my first confession and will be going again to confess my sexual sins. erm…just need some advise from fellow brethens here if there are any benefits of confessing the SAME sins again and again esp I’m easily fallen into sexual sins…

I felt that I’m being a hyprocrite and taking God’s grace in vain…

HELP !:confused:

It’s only a waste of time and a sacrilege if you are not sincerely trying to overcome the sins. If your continued falls are ***in spite of ***your putting up a fight, keep coming to confession and you will find that the graces will eventually kick in and help you overcome.

A man asked a priest if he should keep going to confession since he always confessed the same old sins. He priest replied if he stopped coming he would soon find many new ones.

Each time you repent of a sin God forgives you. Each time you sincerely confess it you receive grace to fight it and grace to want to fight it. You are in a battle, so keep on fighting and keep on going to Confession for the strength to do it.

You are only a hypocrite if you go to confession without having any intention of avoiding the sin in the future. You may fear you will fall into the same sin but if you are at least willing to try to keep fighting against it, that good enough.

I’ve already confessed my sexual sins this evening. Reading the forum here is very encouraging spiritually.

There are MANY different circumstances that could come up that would need to be mentioned in confession regarding sexual sins. I can’t mention them all here. Just say what you did and how many times you did it. Give whatever information is important- if it’s too detailed, it probably won’t be too big a problem- just have some discretion. Gender, age, intoxication, humanity, maturity level, marital status, and privacy are just a few factors that may affect the nature of the sin and need to be mentioned if they do.

Everyone’s good advice, and don’t feel distress about speaking it. We’re all human.

Yup, keep going to confession. The sacrament helps you overcome sins. You will find you are tempted much less and that it is easier to overcome temptation when it does arise. It’s really quite amazing…

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