Not sure about priest's response- very stressed


Hi guys,

This has been weighing me down for a couple of days now:

Back when I was at college I cheated on some assessments (including the final thesis). I cannot remember how extreme the cheating was, but nevertheless it has caught up to me now.

I confessed this sin recently, and the priest said that part of restitution could be to help someone else through their studies. I asked him whether I would be required to give up on my post graduate studies and follow up training since they depended on my thesis marks (the thesis which I cheated on). I also asked if I should ask for my degree to be revoked. The priest’s response was no I don’t have to do neither.

The reason I am not happy with the priest’s advice is because I believe it does not address the damage that has been done. Besides, I find that I am still wrongly benefiting from my college qualifications by showing my academic transcript/marks as evidence that I have completed my studies which I partly cheated on. Doesn’t that still count as dishonesty?

What are your thoughts?



It’s clear this is really weighing on you. What about actually doing the research that you falsified and completing your thesis honestly? We all make a lot of regrettable decisions during our undergrad years. Humbling oneself to accept God’s forgiveness for them can be really difficult.


I thought of that. Researching the information I falsified so I gain the knowledge that was expected of me. But in a true sense, am I still being honest by showing a transcript of falsified marks to future employers and to licencing boards which give me the OK to practice based on my educational qualifications.

Also, I am confident that Christ can forgive me for sinning against Him. But in this case I have sinned and I am sinning against others too. Shouldn’t I make sure restitution is not just about fixing it up with God.


Obey your priest.


Forgiving oneself is sometimes much harder than accepting God’s forgiveness. I would do as Thistle said, “Obey your Priest!” And trust God. Helping someone else is a very good act of atonement too.




I agree with Obey your priest. Let God’s forgiveness wash over you and move on with your life.


Please trust in the forgiveness you have received and do as your priest as suggested. He has provide you with a way to make amends for this error. You could be tutor for others who are studying the same subject and in the process re-learn what you acquired dishonestly. You might be able to prevent someone else from making the same mistake, simply by helping them learn the subject matter.

You have admitted to God that you have done wrong, and you have been forgiven. Let the power of that forgiveness be something you can use the rest of your life. If, for some reason you are tempted to cheat again (in some other area of life or studies), remember the grace you have received in this instance and don’t give in.

We all make mistakes in life and we are fortunate to have a God that forgives us so generously. Don’t question that mercy, but give thanks for it.


When we go to confession and receive absolution and a penance for what we have confessed we should feel a great weight off our shoulders and the loving forgiveness of God. Your job is to throw yourself into your penance and truly help someone else through their studies and perhaps with your help prevent that person from considering the course you took. If it were me I would attempt to align myself with someone who is pursuing a similar thesis and while I was helping them I would be learning what I skipped during my thesis. You have forgive yourself and trust the priest. Truthfully, I think his idea for your penance is brilliant and I bet a few months down the road you will see his great wisdom.




First, there is no obligation to reveal one’s own sins to others, only to God. A spouse who has been cheating, a bookkeeper who embezzled, etc–they have an obligation to make restitution, but not to reveal themselves or their sins.

Why is this? In part, because to do so would throw everything off. Suppose you did go back and reveal your cheating? What would happen? The degrees of those who didn’t cheat might come under suspicion. Would that be fair to them? Students might be tempted to try for this easier path which has now been revealed to be possible. Would that be right?

All in all, you must grapple with your sin and learn to forgive yourself for it just as God has forgiven you. Understand that what you are feeling now is a sort of cleansing and learning experience: this is the way it is with all sins–we cannot go back and eradicate the sin, and the absolution and drawing of good from our evil are all God’s doing.

Tutor another student, do the work you should have done before so your certificate will reflect the truth, and express your gratitude to God for His willingness to help you in this difficulty.


This is easier said than done when a the effects of past sin carry forward into one’s life.

To the OP…I understand your quandary because I have felt similar regrets for past sins.

You are not required to be bound by what the priest has told you in this case. your confessor has told you that you do not have to…Should you choose to is something you would do on your own. What you currently know is that you are not required to as a condition of your forgiveness.

That said - making amends can take a number of forms. One needs to weigh the overall consequences and benefits of a given course of action.
Someone else suggested that you do the research and thereby gain the necessary knowledge and discipline. Having done so, in total honesty and remorse for past sin, presenting the graded (tainted) paper is less of a problem. After all, what a prospective employer is looking for is someone who is honest and can do the job - and that you are resolved to be and do.
If, on the other hand you take the, “road less traveled”, and “fess-up”, getting your degree revoked and having to retake the courses…What will be accomplished???

It is a tough choice…I pray that God will guide you in His Will.



Agree 100% with those posters who advised you to obey your Priest.
He acts as Our Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and forgives your sins in The name of God when he grants you Absolution. If you doubt that - then why go to Confession?
Sometimes it is harder to do exactly as we are told, particularly when sins have weighed us down with guilt for years and the “punishment” we feel we deserve is not forthcoming.
Your Priest has heard it all before and you must believe that your sins are forgiven through the Sacrament you have received. Trust the wisdom of your Priest who has guided you as if Jesus was speaking directly to you - and get on with your life.
God bless you. :slight_smile:


Did the priest say you don’t need to, or that you should not?

If you strongly feel you should fess up, and the priest did not forbid it, then the decision is up to you.

As others have said, will it serve any good purpose? Is the fact that you cheated in this way affecting others, in that perhaps you do not have the knowledge required to do your job correctly.

For instance if a dr fudged the books and turns out they didn’t have the advanced pathology class needed to get their med degree, then indeed their cheating is putting others in danger.

If an English grad student forged some of their thesis or made up a few facts, years later, it really is of no consequence to anyone, and no purpose would be served by making an issue of it, as well as a head ache of meetings and paperwork for the people at the college who probably don’t give a darn at this point.

If the latter is the case, or something similar then as the priest said, a better purpose is served by doing some free tutoring, or helping another with their thesis by giving editing help etc.

Chances are the person you most harmed by cheating is yourself, as you cheated yourself out of knowledge and experience and have clearly cheated yourself of peace of mind, as well as living with the knowledge of sin and guilt.

Restitution, as your priest suggested, might best be done by being of assistance to others, because the college most likely really doesn’t care.


Jesus dies for ALL our sins. It is finished.
If you fully explained/confessed your sin to the priest, then it is over, forgiven, forgotten, slate wiped clean. Scruples are sent by the demon.
However if you cannot find peace, then maybe you should change your job/profession and leave the follies of youth & its consequences behind.


I don’t think this situation is uncommon. It is important for you to perform the prescribed restitution.

What your priest has said is consistent with advice I have heard before, so it’s not unusual.

I think the important thing is that you have some general idea of what you are doing in post-graduate study. If you feel you have a deficiency of some sort, look into taking steps to correct such a deficiency, which would not amount to admitting to cheating since your priest has already advised you. :thumbsup:

But really, you’re life and future employment prospects shouldn’t end just because you cheated.

It’s not like you cheated your way through medical school or law school or got a degree from a paper mill and are trying to pass yourself off as qualified.

I suspect you’ve done quite a bit of work to get to where you are, and don’t throw that away.

Finally, if you go to a priest with a gray area like this, get advice and follow that advice, I don’t see how you could be sinning or how such restitution if done right wouldn’t count.

Relax, do your penance and MOVE ON.


:thumbsup:… The red highlight is what immediately struck me too.

So, you have made a good confession and been given a clear conscience. I personally make an effort to let God’s goodness be the foundation of all things pleasing to Him. I think we can show fruits of repentance in many ways, and of course in taking the penance seriously from your confessor. But most importantly, we should listen and obey His Spirit compelling us what to do.


Thank you very much for all your responses.

What’s troubling me the most is my use of my academic transcript. Suppose my employer or a licencing board needs to see my transcript before hiring/registering me. I show them my transcript which has my marks which were obtained from cheating. Won’t that be dishonesty in itself.

Please help guys! It is really troubling me.


Students might be tempted to cheat if someone came forward and admitted they had been cheating?

A cheating spouse has no obligation to reveal himself or herself? You wanna run that by your spouse and get back to us?


You are worrying about this WAY too much. :yup:

I’ve been told that’s too scrupulous by a priest, and I frankly I agree.

You need to realize that there are some things out there that are not as simple as giving back something stolen, but because God’s mercy is infinite, restitution can be made.

Just do what your priest said.

Cancelling your degree isn’t reasonable.

It cannot always be (nor does it have to be) this super-great exactness.

Also, you need to listen to your priest on matters of conscience. :tsktsk: If you do that in good faith, you cannot go wrong, my friend.

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