question about confession

My cousin had a pretty big question for me the other day and I don’t know how to answer. She was born and raised catholic (unlike me, I’m converting) and she still wasn’t sure about this.

A long time ago (she was then 13 and is now 17) this cousin told almost everyone in the family she was sexually abused. She didn’t say by who. Last week she told me that it was all a lie and that she doesn’t even know why she did it (maybe for attention? I’m not a psychiatrist…). I can tell she feels bad…I’m surprised she admitted this to me, because we’re not super close. She said she confessed it about a month ago but doesn’t feel any better about it. So now she thinks that the only way to be forgiven from he sin is to tell everyone she told the lie to that it was, in fact, a lie. Honestly, I’m a little confused by this logic, because I thought that once you confessed a sin and meant it, you were forgiven. Especially since her lie didn’t damage anyones reputation, besides her own I guess…

Her question – and now my question – is basically this: if someone tells a lie, and confesses it to a priest but not to anyone else, are they still absolved of that sin?

They are still absolved; however, I can understand how she could feel bad enough to want to relieve anyone’s mind on the matter. Even though she didn’t name a name, there could be unease or even suspicions amongst family members. I would tell her that her sin is forgiven, but maybe she should let everyone know that what she had said was untrue.

She has confessed and received absolution so as far as the Lord is concerned all is forgiven.

The problem is that we are hard on ourselves and forgiving ourselves is much more difficult. What you need to do is pray over it. You need to stop obsessing, pray that the Lord releaves you of this anxiety.

I would suggest spending some time at adoration.

She can address this in confession…and ask direction from her confessor or if she does not have one…from the Priest who is there…or another one she feels comfortable with…

It *may *be the case that she may need to tell certain persons it was a lie…so that anyone who may have had their reputation damaged or made suspect…will be restored.

But it is difficult to say…for if it was a long time ago…and maybe no one believed her at the time…they may have known her to have certain difficulties at that age that made her seek attention etc…

I think it can all depend on what damage etc was done…and other factors…But then again this is a very sensitive kind of thing…I am not sure what she needs to do…perhaps nothing more?? Not sure…

except that she can seek further advice in the confessional …

The priest spoke about this sort of thing in length yesterday in his homily.

Even though there was no one named, the effect such a story can have on other people, especially family members, is still there. While she received absolution, she still may need to make reparation for it with the people she told to remove the scandal.

PS, you didn’t mention this, but if her family took her to the police to make a report about this, she’s also guilty of a crime.

The purpose of a good penance is to repair the broken relationships. It is easy to repair our relationship with God, but most of the time we hurt others - as it appears your cousin has. The priests in my parish usually give us a penance that includes doing something for the person we hurt as well.

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