revealing sins

ok, so I understand a priest cannot tell you to reveal your sin in the confessional. I’m having trouble understanding why though.

is a person commits adultery, should he be obligated to tell his wife for example? or if a person steals from his friend, shouldn’t he pay it back? if a person murders, shouldn’t they admit it to the police? if you lie, shouldn’t you tell the person you lied to? if you cheat on a test, shouldn’t you tell your professor?

don’t people deserve to know the truth?

I know, the point of confession is to repent to God and ask forgiveness but what should be done after in regards to the people you sinned against? if you don’t have to reveal your sins, why not? I mean, there are situations where people will never find out about certain things, or they were very far in your past.

I’m just confused about the whole thing. thanks

Perhaps it’s because, ultimately, all sins are against God first and foremost. In fact, I know priests who have advised people not to reveal a particular sin to the injured party.

i learnt that , for complete forgiveness of theft, you must compensate the victim.

No. The spouse often already knows, but, if she does not, there is no reason to hurt her.

or if a person steals from his friend, shouldn’t he pay it back?

Yes, but he can do so anonymously.

if a person murders, shouldn’t they admit it to the police?

Not necessarily.

if you lie, shouldn’t you tell the person you lied to?

Again, not necessarily.

if you cheat on a test, shouldn’t you tell your professor?

You should stop cheating.

don’t people deserve to know the truth?

Not always. Sometimes you would only do more damage by revealing a lie.

people use that justification for telling lies in the first place, that sometimes it’s better to not tell the truth because it can be harmful. what’s the difference and not revealing your sins?

Don’t lie in the first place. You can simply refuse to answer an improper question.


A priest cannot require a penitent to reveal himself of a crime, etc. IOW, he cannot withhold absolution pending he turn himself in.

That said, a priest can urge a person to make restitution even if it may require him to turn himself in/confess. For example, a person commits perjury and the now a person is doing time for a crime they did not commit. They, priests, can urge the penitent to undo the harm done, telling the truth, but they cannot require it.

Likewise, if a husband is cheating on his spouse with prostitutes, he could urge the husband to speak with his wife or in the very least, get counseling. The wife, spouse, could be in danger in that they could have a STD. The counseling, if the real thing, will probably get to the point where they need to confess to their spouse. I do not agree that in general keeping this, adultery/affairs, from a spouse does no harm.

So, although it isn’t required for confession, the priest could still urge the penitent to do something (eg a priest who is abusing children could urge them to get help - go to his Bishop). Urging is not requiring.

I regret that the Church has not been clearer in recent times regarding some things (if sin commit in print, then the person need to retract/apologize in print).

As to the why it isn’t required for a confession, our sorrow for sins is first because they offend God, then neighbor. It is up to us to work it out, or not, with our neighbor. Not everything a person does to his neighbor can be “fixed”, restitution, but God’s mercy is endless. Sometimes we can not undo our sins but suffer through the consequences (lost reputation, separation or divorce, jail time).
Also, it is not unheard of for people to want things to be righted meaning after confession, prompted by the Holy Spirit, they make amends with their neighbor.
So, a person can not be forced to reveal themselves from something they confess because confession is all about reconciling a person with God and his Holy Church. The person gets to work on relationships, etc, outside the confessional himself. God will not force that on anyone, reconciling with neighbor or making amends. Sometimes that is impossible esp if the person has died. But, that does mean a person can do something to show their sorrow (donations anonymously).

That breaks the seal of confession. You cannot be required to reveal your sins, that is a violation of the seal.

No. One does not have to do any of these things. One may choose to do so. One cannot be obligated to do so in the confessional. One can make restitution via other methods.

No, angel. In fact, sometimes that is harmful to them. People don’t “deserve” to know your sins.

You have a personal issue with scrupulosity you have brought up on other threads where you state you feel like a “fake” because if people knew your past sins they would think you were a terrible person.

This is an issue YOU need to deal with in counseling with your priest. This is your scrupulosity talking.

If people had to reveal their sins to others, they would not confess them. That would endanger their souls. Temporal matters are not what is important, eternity is. The Church knows this. The sanctity of the sacrament exists for this reason. No one can be compelled to reveal what is said in the confessional.

A penitent can voluntarily reveal something if they want to, but they can never be **compelled **to do so.

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