Omissions in confession


Warning: this post contains a discussion of sexual sin.

I’m 29 and I recently came into the Church. At my first confession three years ago, I did not mention some of the mortal sexual sins I had committed in my teenage years and early twenties. I confessed to a pattern of sexual sin and listed the types of such sin that I had committed the most frequently, e.g. fornication and masturbation, but I also left a few out, including oral sex. I thought it would be sufficient to confess the pattern of sexual sin without listing every kind of sin committed. I now fear that my omission of these mortal sins might have invalidated that confession, since I am aware that one is supposed to confess each type of sin of which he is aware at the level of the species. Am I just being scrupulous, or do I have something to worry about? Thank you for any help.


It may help to note that another reason I omitted to mention several of the mortal sins from my past was that I was nervous and hurrying through the confession somewhat, especially because of the long line behind me and the long list of sins I needed to confess…


This is something to ask your confessor.


I do plan to consult a priest, but I’m hoping that someone here might also have some insight about the issue.


If that’s what you believed and as long as you did not intentionally conceal these sins, you should be fine. I wouldn’t worry over it. Just discuss it with your priest when you can.


Worrying about not providing enough detail in confession is a classic scrupulosity issue. Have a regular confessor, trust his counsel.


There is intentional omission and then being general.

Someone a while back here said, they say things like “sins against purity, sins against chastity, four times” and would elaborate if the priest asked them for more details to better understand what happened.



AMEN to that .


This would be something to talk to your confessor about in your next confession.


I was once told by a priest that one shouldn’t elaborate too much on the type of sins in confession because to do so would put images in the priest’s mind. Then your confession would be an occasion of sin for the priest.


Hi ! …
In regards to your question,

A LOT of posters here will offer their ‘opinion’
And their opinion may not reflect church teaching at all,

And another problem today is that a LOT of priests do not know the Catechism (which they and you are both bound in obedience to),

This is what the church officially teaches:

The Catholic catechism states:

Mortal sins must be mentioned by:

  1. specifically by name
  2. by number (or approximate number if unknown)

Deliberately not telling a mortal sin is the mortal sin of sacrelige and renders the whole confession null, which means the whole confession has to be said again, according to the Catechism.

Only you know if you deliberately withheld mortal sins or whether it was an accident.

Confessing the commandment against purity, also means mentioning whether it was:
Adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, use of contraceptives, abortion, homosexuality,

sodomy (is the sin you forgot to confess),

All these sins have different levels of gravity against onself, God and neighbour.
Yes it needs to be confessed.

Confessing: an ‘impure sin’/ ‘sexual sin’ is not enough as it could mean ANY of the above.

The Catechism also states:
If you accidentally forgot to confess a mortal sin, all sins are forgiven, but it states you NEED to confess any remembered unconfessed mortal sins in the next confession, because the rule remains that mortal sins must be confessed specifically by name and number (or approximate number if unknown).

The problem today is that you need to double check, did the advice my catholic friend/ priest give me, line up exactly with what the Catechism says).
Priests or laypeople, are not allowed to go agains the official Magistrium of the Church or against the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

If you are unsure if you withheld a mortal sin deliberately or accidentally,
Then have a general confession just in case (which means confessing all mortal sins committed from birth up until now), and then you can rest with a peaceful conscience :slight_smile:


I can confirm that , @MockSock .

Regarding sins of impurity some confessors do recommend that a penitent just says that he/she has sinned against the 6th commandment .

If the confessor thinks he needs to know more he will ask .



You don’t have to go into detail. God already knows all the details.


This is actually not good advice to give to someone who may struggle with scrupulosity. With the obsessive nature of scruples, the person is likely to keep doubting and to keep second guessing and to keep attempting to make general confessions.

To the OP: You really need to ask these sorts of questions to your priest, and not online, where you will get a range of opinions from a range of people, some qualified, some not, that could only further your doubts.



This is right. Detail is not necessary.


In general What about sins of impurity?

Because generally these sins have a different gravity depending on the specific sin.

Eg: masturbation, sodomy, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, (each one of these have different gravity)

The catechism does say confess sins by name and number.

The commandment of not to commit adultery encompasses all mortal sins against purity.
But confessing the commandment does not specify the nature of the sin


Just bring it up in your next confession that you omitted some specific sexual sins from your past Confession and do you need to specifically confess them now?


Having a concern for making a good confession isn’t scrupulous. It would be great if more people had such concern.

Ask a priest. What I would do is schedule a time to meet with a priest. But I think you are probably fine in that you didn’t intentionally conceal sins due to a lack of understanding. By explicitly confessing them next time you’d definitely be good.

Saying I committed unnatural sex acts (weekly over three years, twenty times over about two years, or whatever) doesn’t really take a lot of time. The real problem is we don’t want to be transparent about our sin. That is natural, but one good of confession is in breaking down our pride.

If you ever have to make a confession like this again I recommend spending a good amount of time examining your conscience. Make a list of your sins and the frequency. Try to use as little words as possible while conveying the truth. Then when you confess go off the list. Having a list helps me to not allow embarrassment or other concerns derail my confession. Afterwards burn the list or if you make it on a phone, like I do, delete it.


When I say “don’t go into detail,” I don’t mean just to say “I violated the sixth commandment twelve times,” because as you point out, that isn’t specific enough. But if someone says “I committed sexual acts with another person,” or “I looked at pornography,” that’s sufficient. I don’t ask for further detail, e.g. what kind of sexual acts or what type of pornography. Those details would be unnecessary, just the nature of the moral object–what kind of act was it.



I just had a thought. Suppose someone did not know the exact technical terms of the sins? They tell the sin the best they can but don’t know or understand how to articulate it?

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