Quandry Regarding Confession and Revealing Sins


(I am placing this topic in this section of the forum, as it seems to fit best here. However, if it would be better placed somewhere else, a moderator should feel free to move it.)

I have been pondering this question for the past hour or two, and would like to hear some input on what the correct answer might be.

In the sacrament of Confession, the priest cannot require the penitent to reveal any of the sins confessed, be it murder, adultery, etc. This is clear to me. However, the following scenario appeared in my mind, and I can’t seem to figure out a way out of it that doesn’t involve the penitent revealing their sins to someone else.

Say a child told a lie to his parents. The child then goes to Confession and confesses to having lied, and to not having honored his mother and father. The child receives Absolution for these sins. However, if the child then fails to disclose the lie to his parents at the earliest opportunity, would he not then immediately be guilty again of not honoring his mother and father, for having failed to reveal the lie?

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps I have a flawed idea of the meaning of the commandment to honor mother and father, and that not revealing the lie to the parents would, in fact, be permissible (at least until such time that the child is prompted again by the parents for the information the child lied about.) I’m interested to hear everyone’s take on this scenario. It seems clear-cut to me with the other aforementioned scenarios, but this one has me stumped.


A confessor can not require the penitent to reveal any sins confessed.

A minor child may have the obligation to reveal certain things to his parent. This has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Confession. It is an entirely separate issue.


The child will receive God’s justice in Purgatory.

If a person steals 20 dollars from his friend, must the priest make the person repay the 20 dollars to his friend? No. Can the priest make the person repay the 20 dollars to his friend? No, but he can probably prescribe repayment as penance. More than likely he would ask the penitent to put 20 dollars in the poor box, but that probably isn’t likely because the person may not have 20 dollars to put into the poor box.

The confessional is a way to obtain grace; it isn’t a justice box.


You’re overthinking this. The purpose of confession is to repent of the sin, confess it, and be forgiven. There is not a further requirement to confess the sin to an outside party.

When you consider it, nearly every sin affects some other person, as well as offending God. If we started thinking this way, we would end up confessing sins to everybody.

closed #5

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