Is confession all or nothing?


I am trying to make my way back to the church. I went to confession two years ago because of having been married outside of the Catholic church. I confessed this as well as many years’ worth of transgressions. After meeting with the priest (after confession) he advised me to try to keep my family in tact (we have children) and pray that over time my life will provide the circumstance for me to fully return. My husband (who is Muslim) still is not willing to have our marriage normalized by the church. I would like to at least go to confession again for forgiveness of all my sins (knowing that I still cannot partake in the Eucharist until my marriage is regularized), but am unsure if I should continue to confess that I am not living in a proper marriage situation. The priest that I had originally spoke with has since left for another church. So, my question is, can I confess my other sins without mentioning my marriage each time? On the one hand I feel this is concealing sin, but on the other hand I know that I won’t be able to clear it up anytime soon, therefore, asking for forgiveness of something that I know won’t be fixed soon. Should I not go to confession at all? Thanks for any kind guidance that could be given to me.


You are obviously doing the best you can, and most priests will respect that and not rebuff you for turning up to confession.

You have also acted on the advice that your received from a priest.

Someone better informed on the relevant laws may be able to give you a clear answer, but my recommendation is to go to confession anyway and just tell the truth.

Best wishes with it!


I am not an expert, but I believe that you can/should confess again. Don’t conceal anything. You should mention your marriage and that you are following your last confessors’ advice.

If your marriage is stable and lasting, you could look into a radical sanation, in which your marriage would be recognized by the Church without a new ceremony. This could even be done without your husband’s knowledge.


Since you are not married to a Christian, Why not ask a priest if there is a way to regularize your marriage without him being involved? The only thing I can think of that may be a problem is whether or not your children are being raised Catholic. The Church’s insistance about that is possibly why your husband is objecting to it.
I suggest that you go to a nearby Rectory and make an appointment to see a priest and discuss the matter with him.


Confession is all or nothing. Confess every sin you remember, and I think you can tell the priest that you have confessed the marriage outside The Church already. I don’t think it is a sin to live in a marriage where the Sacrament of Matrimony is not valid in The RCC eyes, it is a marriage where you live and have kids. I don’t think your husband will convert, but try to explain why you would like to at least take your kids to Sunday Mass, if he is a good Muslim he respect every faith we have on earth. And keep on confessing, it cleanse your soul and keep in connection with God and His Church.


Thank you everyone for your very loving replies. This has been a difficult journey and I appreciate the kindness.

I think I’ll go to confession this week, as I feel a strong desire to, and make an appointment with the priest to go over my situation again. I have done my best to raise my children to have a good understanding of the Catholic faith and what it has done to guide the ethics of my personal life and how I interact with the world (I mostly went through Catholic schooling including high school and college). I do though respect that my husband has an obligation to raise them as Muslims. Honestly, he is wonderful about respecting the Catholic tradition and was brought up to have a deep respect for the Pope. For sure he is not an “anti-Catholic”, but at the same time he has his stopping points on accepting my wanting to return to my faith.

Perhaps as time goes on all will be well, but for now this is heavy on my mind. I have great children and good family life. But this is a piece of myself that I need to have put back into place. Please pray for that to happen.


Lasting Faith is right - confession is all or nothing. The only problem I would see is can you really commit to a firm purpose of amendment? Can you truly say that you have no intention to continue in sin? If you plan to continue to share the marriage bed with your husband than the answer to these questions is ‘no’ and the validity of your confession is questionable, at best.

I’m sure this sounds harsh but ‘all or nothing’ means more than just confessing all your sins, you must be truly sorry for your sins and mean what you say when you recite your act of contrition - avoiding near occasions of sin and intending not to commit these sins again.


Contact Catholic Answers apologists -they can help you in a “live” fashion (they deal with this kind of situation all the time as I recall). And of course get with your Parish Priest.

It would seem that confession would need to wait.

One cannot repent of and confess just some mortal sins -it is as you note “all” that must be repented of (and one would need to repent -and not intend to continue…) and confessed.

But certainly keep turning to Jesus in prayer and keep moving towards getting things rectified. Do not give up but pray and seek…


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