Sin to avoid regular confessor?

I am have a question. I have been going to the same confessor for almost a year. He is a holy man, gives good spiritual advice, and is also my parish priest. I am curious if it is a sin to go somewhere else for confession if I don’t want him to know about particular sin?

I abuse alcohol, and have gone long periods of abstaining-but recently slipped. I confessed it, and He was shocked to find out I had a drinking problem, and our relationship has been akward and strained since he found out. I was helping in some church ministries-I suspect he is concerned about me being in any kind of ministry now that he knows I have this issue.

Well-I slipped again-need the grace of the sacrament, as it has been almost 6 weeks since I have gone…but am very uncomfortable confessing this. Is it a sin to go to “the priest down the street” to avoid my pastor? I know the grace of the sacrament is valid no matter where I go-I was just wondering if the “intent” behind going elsewhere is to conceal something from my regular confessor and this is compounding the sin? We are not in a spiritual director/directee relationship.

Your comments are welcome.

According the canon law:
Latin - CIC Can.
991 Every member of the Christian faithful is free to confess sins to a legitimately approved confessor of his or her choice, even to one of another rite.

Eastern - CCEO Can. 722
4. Priests who are endowed with this faulty by virtue of their office or by virtue of the grant of the local hierarch of the eparchy in which they are enrolled or in which they have domicile, can validly administer the sacrament of penance anywhere to any Christian faithful, unless the local hierarch in a special case expressly denies it; the same faculties are licitly used observing the norms made by the eparchial bishop and also with at least the presumed permission of the rector of the church or the superior, if it is a case of a house of an institute of consecrated life.

You mentioned that the priest was shocked to find this out, and that the relationship has been awkward and strained. How so? Any chance that this is more in your own mind than in his? IME, priests never allow this to happen, and most do not even recall what they have heard when outside the confessional.

I personally go to several different churches for confession depending on my schedule. I also always go “behind the curtain”. There is one priest I try to avoid for the same reason. He gets all “shocked” over the sins I confess. REALLY!! What does he think I’m going to say in the confessional? That I rescued puppies?

I’m not going there to be scolded, I’m going there to recieve forgiveness. I’m not a child. Obviously, I know what I did was wrong or I wouldn’t be there. It’s not like I’m confessing murder or adultry.

First of all, thank you for your openness to discussing this sensitive issue. It’s not an outright sin, but IMO it is absolutely best to find a regular confessor whom one can trust with anything. If you don’t feel comfortable going to your parish priest, that’s not your fault. You might consider establishing this very important “confessor-confessee” relationship with another priest whom you can trust completely. If what you’ve told him in the confessional seems to affect his opinion of you and of your ability to carry out volunteer duties at the parish, perhaps you should find another parish. I must stress here that this is just my opinion, and that there are likely other components to this problem that should be considered before you decide to attend and serve elsewhere.

All this being said, I would give him one more chance in the confessional. In my experience, one can’t be sure about another’s true feelings from just one bad encounter and some seemingly awkward subsequent interactions. Two bad encounters in the confessional, if you are willing to risk it, would tell you for sure that you either need to find another confessor, or that you merely caught him off guard that one time (he is only human!) and that your perception that things are “strained” between you is wrong. I hope this has been helpful. Thanks for reading.

Yours in Jesus through Mary,



Sorry, not to derail, but that was funny!

To the OP: Nope, not a sin. In fact it is better to go to another priest if you feel that what is said in confession is affecting your relationship, even if that is just your perception. You need to be able to be completely open and transparent when confessing. If knowing your confessor inhibits you, go elsewhere.

LOL !! :slight_smile:

Don’t know the age of the priest but it may do well to find a younger priest who perhaps may be a bit harder to “scandalize” with “shocking” confessions…

To confess a sin is always a very personal thing and sadly, sometimes shamefaced “incident”. In my proffesion you see and hear many things, some a bit strange, even, hence, it is very important to “use” only one confessor, (or doctor) that because what make things work is how well you know the person, and he/she you.

I understand that it is hard to, yet once, confess the same sin. But a priest do understand. He can be upset, but that because he is concerned, and sometimes is not so easy to stay “proffesional”. He is your pastor, and I did understand that you have known him a long time. Well, of course he react to your “sin”. (IMHO drinking is more a problem then a sin.) He want you to stay sober and off the booze, and maybe feel that he have failed in his duty. So he takes a bit personal, who would not. As adviced a few answer ago, give him a chance, but tell him how you feel, first. And as said so many times before, there is most likely not much a priest has not heard before. I truly hope things will work out for you, and that you find good reasons to stay sober. It is mighty problem to fight, that I can tell you, but it is possible to overcome. I hope you find the strength.



Hi and thank you for posting. You are free to go wherever you feel most comfortable for Confession. I agree with another poster that said priests usually don’t remember things said during Confession. Even if they do, they are not supposed to act/react any differently towards you with information learned there. Sometimes we may project that ourselves, especially when it comes to things that we feel the most down on ourselves about. We are all fallen and have things that we need to work through, so you are not alone. The important thing is that we get back up again and keep trying.:hug1: :grouphug:

I think that actually, the older ones tend to be more shock-proof, simply by virtue of the number of confessions they have heard. I’m not talking about retired priests, I’m talking about the 40 to 60 year old demographic. They’ve literally spent years hearing confessions, and not much is going to ruffle their feathers. I actually heard one priest yawn while I was confessing fairly recently.

They get instructed in seminary to maintain a neutral demeanor and avoid scolding. I’ve been advised and admonished in the confessional, but I’ve never been talked down to, yelled at, or any one of a number of things I’ve heard here. Once, when the priest asked for the details of something I confessed (it wasn’t sexual in nature or anything like that,) he actually chuckled a little when I ran through the situation. He quickly followed up by an admonition to see the shortsightedness and general stupidity of this particular thing, and counseled me to avoid reacting to such a situation at all in the future. And he did apologize for laughing at me. I didn’t take it personally, it really was ridiculous and I knew it.

Actually, to the OP, Father might have some resources for you to avoid your drinking relapses. He might be aware of some counseling programs or support groups in addition to whatever you have been doing to this point to try to stay sober, since it isn’t quite adequate. If you do return to confession with him, I’d ask him if he had any advice or direction for you. It’s worth a shot, and might be exactly what you need to get over this glitch. Since we’re supposed to try to amend our lives as one result of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Father might have some ideas for you. Bringing up your alcohol abuse is a good idea, since it does limit the free will that you have available to exercise.

Don’t care where you go, just confess to a priest somewhere soon.

I have a question here: would a priest who heard your confession change his demeanor toward you outside of the confessional? Would he decline to let you participate in certain ministries based on what you said? :blush:

No. He shouldn’t and many priests forget right away whats been said to them in the confessional. Sounds like either projection of your own feelings or the priest has something else bothering him about something totally unrelated to you.

That said, you are certainly able to go to another confessor

I was so self-conscious after my last confession that for several weeks I had trouble looking the priest in the eye. So that would have an effect, right?:stuck_out_tongue: I think he did remember it for awhile. :blush:

First of all-I would like to say thanks for the responses. I appreciate the info from the CC-Now I know I am free to go elsewhere if that’s what it takes to get me to the Sacrament-this relieves some of my anxiety.

No-It is not in my head-it has been awkward, and without going into any detail-trust me…he definetly remembers. I would like to discuss this with him-but he is so busy running our parish single handedly…and there are only 45 minutes for confession, and perhaps others waiting. I hate to bother him for an appointment unless it was an emergency. This man just gives and gives and gives to the point of exhaustion.

I have read it is a good idea to have the same confessor-that’s why in spite of the awkwardness, I go back to him. He is very Christlike, and has good advice.

I will pray about where I should go-and then follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. God has been working on my pride, and it has been a humbling experience to have had to confess this sin.

Thanks everyone for your responses.


Unlikely. People tend to be self-conscious, but priests hear so many confessions, it is not usually the case.

First, props for the “rescuing puppies” remark … classic! I am with you – depending upon my work schedule and location, there are about 4-5 different priests that I may go to. I also go behind the curtain; otherwise, I would try to sugar-coat things or try to qualify my sins (to thine own self be true).

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