What to confess

RCIA is almost complete and my time to swim the Tiber is soon upon me. I have another question before the Easter Vigil. As a protestant I have never been to confession before. I have always known that I can take my sins straight to God. I know that the RCC teaches the confession of mortal sins is needed (which I agree with by the way) for entrance into heaven. The RCC also teaches that non Catholic Christians can gain entrance as well. To me this means that entrance is OK for protestants even without the sacrament of reconciliation. My question then is what do I confess? If any mortal sins were already confessed straight to God before I recognized the need for the RCC teachings and that would have been fine if I stayed a protestant do I have to confess those same sins again? Not trying to avoid and dodge a true confession I feel as if I am truly forgiven for those sins from my protestant days.
Any full teachings on this?

First: Are you being Baptized? I assume so, since you identify as protestant.
When you go, you say 'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. This is my very first confession (and I’m nervous) :wink:
If you are already baptized, then yes, confess any past mortal sins. Any that you can truthfully remember.
Confess the things that you struggle with where you are in your life today. Speak frankly.
At the end you say: For these and all the sins of my past life, I am truly sorry".

You’ll do fine.
Welcome home.

Earl -


Here’s link to a document that might help you. Some Churches have a similar document in the Church during confessional hours.


Certainly talk to your priest about your first confession including the topic of mortal sins that you have knowledge of. I expect that the Priest will be very helpful in this regards.

Remember we have an all loving God who at this time wants us to repent, and to reconcile us to Him.


God does not hold folks accountable for something they don’t know about. But once you do know THEN you are held accountable. So if protestants don’t know/understand that God said the way to gain forgiveness is through confession to a priest (John 20:22-23) then they aren’t held accountable. Entrance is POSSIBLE but the "ok"ness depends on many factors.

First of all, welcome home! :wave:

Well, yes and no for Protestants entering heaven without confession. :slight_smile:

Yes, because Protestants are not subject to the Church’s canon law, since they are not fully in union with the Church, and so don’t have access to the sacraments. This doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t have to go through purgatory. It’s not a “get into heaven free card” deal. It merely means that God does not hold people accountable for what they did not have and did not know.

Now that you are a candidate, however, you are no longer considered a Protestant, but a Catholic, so canon law now applies to you. Of course, God could have forgiven you, but you still need to be reconciled to Christ’s Body (all the baptized), whether or not this is the case. This is what absolution does. And the penance Father will give you pays, in justice, for the damage your sins did to you and the whole Body of Christ.

So, confess any and all mortal sins you can remember–keeping in mind that if you knew they were grave sins when you committed them, that you did them freely, and you did them deliberately you should confess them. I don’t say must only because since you were a Protestant, you weren’t under canon law. Still, it’s always good to get these things out in the open. Not merely to be right with God and the Church but to see where you’ve been and where you still need to go.

Don’t sweat it, though. Simply confess your sins as you remember them. If Father needs any explanations he will ask for them. If he doesn’t know you are a candidate, you can explain that to him just to give him some context for you confession.

All the best to you and yours this Lent and Easter! :smiley:

Just a clarification…yes while the obligation to confess all mortal sins that one is culpable of is specified in Canon Law - and yes while salvation is possible as the Church teaches for those outside the visible Catholic Church - it is important to note that confession of mortal sins is not only a matter of Canon Law - but of* Divine Law*.

(So while various things can “exempt” from such…ignorance and impossiblity etc - it is important to note that.)

Hmmm, your RCIA instructure should be including when the class will be receiving first Reconciliation and what to confess. In general, confess all Mortal sins in number and kind, for example say “I stole $20 from work 3 times”, or “I committed Adultery one time”

My current favorite examination of conscience is this one:


Yes, but if non-Catholic Christians cannot receive absolution because they not Catholic, then they cannot be obliged to confess to a priest. It would be unfair to make that a condition of forgiveness for such persons. Therefore, they must rely on being perfectly contrite, according to divine law. It is hoped they would be. Of course, that’s assuming they meet the criteria of being culpable of mortal sin in the first place. :slight_smile:

Still, I advised the OP, since he’s a candidate, to confess all the sins he considers mortal so that he can be assured that he is forgiven and reconciled to the Church.

:hey_bud: That’s awesome! :thumbsup: I just printed it up, and intend to use it for my next confession, prior to Easter Sunday. I’ll also print some up for my kids. Thanks for posting that. :blessyou:


Yes they can…in becoming Catholic once they come to now that such is the will of God…

Just as with the rest of what God wills that we may not yet realize…

The point there was only that is that it not an obligation created by Canon Law for Catholics…

But that doesn’t affect those who don’t become Catholic–that’s the point.

Just as with the rest of what God wills that we may not yet realize…

I did say that God can save people apart from the sacraments. So, why make an agrument out of nothing? Let’s move on and not take the thread off topic.

The point there was only that is that it not an obligation created by Canon Law for Catholics. But is of Divine Law.

Yes, and I addressed that. Again, you are arguing over nothing. I’ll not respond again.

When I respond to posts I often do not just respond to the person who posted but often will include other information so others who read my posts will not misunderstand what I am getting at. I often write for the wider audience. So my posts can be “fuller” to avoid giving a misleading answer on my part if someone does not take the time to read the whole thread. It was not aimed per se at you. :slight_smile: (so sorry for not making that clear)

The point of the little clarification there was to bring out that such is a matter of Divine Law not only Canon Law. That it applies to all (as does say Baptism…though someone may not come to know that and be baptized).

Where as some of what is in Canon Law regarding Marriage is only “of Canon Law for Catholics” and not Divine Law. That is what I was trying to get at.

As you noted tis off topic…I was just trying to add that little bit for clarification.

Sorry for the misunderstandings that ensued. Was not my intent.

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