What to do with (apparently) unsound advice from confessor?

Just a few days ago I went to confession and was surprised at some of the things the priest said to me, as they seemed to go against Catholic teachings. Basically he was downplaying the gravity of one of the sins I confessed, and was pretty much telling me I shouldn’t worry about it, and took as an example a related sin (which I hadn’t committed since my last confession but have in the past and believe is wrong) and said that that “for example” wouldn’t be so bad either.

I felt strange about it. I could say to myself “Well great, turns out it’s not really a big deal anyway” but attractive though that seems from one perspective (because it makes things “easy” on me), somehow it doesn’t seem right. It feels more like the priest colluded with me in the weakness by dismissing it as very minor, and I don’t think that’s what I go to confession for. Besides, I know that no other priest ever gave me a similar response, so what I was told this time doesn’t seem right. But that raises a more general question: to what extent can or should one trust a confessor?

A confessor’s advice is just that: advice.


  1. an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.

Advice is not binding on the penitent since it is the confessor’s personal opinion. You can take it or leave it based on your own prudential judgment.

I would not normally advise anyone to ignore a confessor’s advice since he may be challenging the penitent and may be correct in the particular situation. However, if the advice seems to fly in the face of common sense and the advice of other trusted confessors then the penitent should not feel an obligation to heed it.

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