What sins are we obliged to confess in the Sacrament of Penance?


I am very confused on this subject. I have gone through dozens of websites and looked through the Catechism but I have been unable to come up with a clear answer. Do we only have to confess mortal sins in Confession? Or all venial sins as well. I am very scrupulous and if I started to confess my venial sins, I would put the priest to sleep. I like to go every week, but only if I have mortal sins. Is this an acceptable practice?

Thank you for your time and assistance.


Hello Braeden. I hope this helps: ALL mortal sins must be Confessed to a Priest in the Confessional BEFORE you can receive the Eucharist, number and kind.

An example would be this: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last Confession and I robbed three banks since then. I spent the money but will pay the equivalent amount to a charity. I also had a fight with my sister and called her some names. For these and all the sins of my past life, I am heartily sorry and ask pardon of God and Penance of you Father.”

Here the penitent is confessing number of sins, 3 banks, type of sin, robbery, and is demonstrating a desire to make amends which is necessary in the case of mortal sins for sufficient contrition to appear to be present, and is also confessing venial sins. Both can be confessed and should be. But All Mortal sins need to be Confessed.

Mortal sins are the only ones that have to be confessed.

The confession of venial sins falls to the category of Devotion and that is the way to personal holiness. As Mother Angelica loved to say, “We are all called to be Saints.”

I suggest you get a copy of *The Sinners Guide * which is published by TAN.

Good luck and God bless.



Hi Braeden,

I personally find using an “Examination of Conscience” guide book or leaflet to be really helpful when preparing for confession. I have mentioned this in other posts here on the forum.

Some parishes have the printed booklets or leaflets available at the time of confession. You can also get a booklet through your local Catholic book store.

When reading through a booklet or leaflet, it helps jog my memory to see if I might have forgotten anything that I had intended to confess, but that just slipped my mind.

As to your questions, yes, we are obligated to confess mortal sins. You should go to confession whenever you have committed a mortal sin, and need to confess it.

As to how often you go otherwise–once a week, etc–that would be up to you, and what you think you needed to confess.

The church encourages us to go to confession during Lent.

As for venial sins, I confess them. I think about what it says in the Catechism (#1862/63), and what I also read before too, and that is that occassion of venial sin can lead to mortal sin.


It is required that you confess all mortal sins you remember.
It is not required that you confess venial sins but it is recommended.

You should tell your priest about your scrupulosity so he can advise you.


As another poster said you must confess all mortal sins. Study the Ten Commandments to learn about these. You will have a good base to work from…for me the perfect way to reflect on my behaviors and thoughts, as well as omissions during the weeks since my last Confession.

Sometimes people forget about or don’s even think of omissions. It might be something like not showing enough gratitude for someone’s help, or not being as helpful as possible toward others. I don’t mean for you to increase your difficulty with being overly scrupulous, but it is a nice way to check on our daily attitudes and actions, simply checking on our level of concern for others, patience or reasonableness.

I used to go to confession every week, but after a while I choose to go once a month in an effort to curb some of my own scrupulosity. Of course if I had committed a mortal sin I would go sooner. I hope this helps a little.


First of all, if you are scrupulous, you need to find one spiritual director and this starts by talking to your priest.

Second, you only have to Confess mortal sins in kind and number.

If you go to Confession only for mortal sins, that is an acceptable practice.


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