Why are we not required to reveal our sins?


why is it not a requirement for confession to reveal our sins to the people we sinned against?

if we lied, doesn’t the other party deserve to know the truth?

if we cheated on a test, wouldn’t we be getting a grade we didn’t deserve?

if we murder someone, someone else might be convicted falsely

if we committed adultery, we broke our commitment to our spouse.

I’m sort of struggling with this. I know all sins are against God, and we’re telling him. but they’re also against other people too. it seems too easy almost if you just go in to the confession and then no one will ever know. people might still think highly of your even though you don’t deserve it. it’s only because they don’t know what you’ve done


It is necessary to reconcile.
Wouldn’t that be more important?
Which is better? Draw attention to the hurt, or heal the hurt?


In some cases, revealing would not be helpful. And a world of constant apology could get crazy, although I agree that we could use more contrition in the world. Some people might have false consciences and apologize for things that aren’t really sins.

Perhaps REQUIRING apologies makes it hard for a true change of will. Not requiring is different than not allowing.


Kudos to folks that can put a voice to their “sins” or unskillful actions. I find it difficult enough to do an examination of conscience in thought alone let alone saying something aloud whether to myself or to a third party such as a priest. I find giving voice to something unskillful I’ve done quite daunting. Blessings to all.


One is supposed to make reparation for the sin they committed


Well, all sin is ultimately against God, and He is the one Who forgives us. The priest gives us a penance (prayer, fasting, sacrifices, almsgiving etc) as “medicine” to repair the damage caused by sin, but this penance is light in comparison to the harm our sins have done to the Church (as the body of Christ) and our neighbors. The stain of sin is purged in…purgatory.

I’m not positive about this, so somebody please correct me if this is theologically wrong, but maybe some of God’s justice will take place in purgatory, for unforgiven sins against others (which we were absolved of in confession.)

I imagine that it would be a bad idea to require penitents to confess or say they’re sorry to people they’ve wronged…it would probably lead to a whole lot more sinning, in fact. Some sins should NEVER be revealed to the wronged parties. Some people may not be prepared mentally or spiritually for someone to tell them something they did against them.

In AA, for example, making amends or restitution to people must only be done when it will not harm yourself or others. It’s done that way for a good reason, for to cause more harm would negate the value of confession in the first place.

Sometimes the confessor will ask you if it’s possible to apologize, or in the case of stealing, they will tell you to give back what was stolen. But if doing that will get you in more trouble, such as being fired if you stole from work or arrested if your neighbor is not so forgiving, they will tell you to give the money to the poor or some charity…

But religiously speaking, our sin is between us and God. Socially, it’s up to the individual to determine what, if any, amends should be made–if we made a good confession, our sin is still forgiven.


Blessings to you, as well. I’m a cradle Catholic, and it’s still hard. In fact, there are apps to help us do a good examination of conscience. As far as confession, I go to a different parish for the embarrassing sins! I know our priest has heard it all and doesn’t care, but I still go to a priest who doesn’t know me…

FWIW, I’ve done the 4th and 5th step in AA, and that’s truly about 100x harder! For step 4 (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves), I had to write an entire notebook about every single bad thing I’ve ever done. For step 5 (Admit to yourself and another person the exact nature of your wrongs) you go over the whole thing with anyone, usually your sponsor, but I did mine with a priest who was also in AA. Then, usually people burn theirs, which I did. Note well: The steps are done differently all over the world, so Your mileage may vary.


Perhaps this is off point, but it’s important to know that the 12 Step programs have their base in St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. It was not a conscious application but very clearly the leaders had that influence.


The Church can’t require that the penitent reveal their sons either.

If revelation of sin by the priest were allowed, people would not go to Confession, their sins might not be absolved, and they might go to Hell. This is why it is forbidden for the priest or anyone else (an interpreter, someone who overheards) to breach the Seal of Confession.

Nor can the penitent be required to reveal anything outside the confessional, for the same reason.


Thx, I remember that now. In fact, Sister Ignatia was a nurse who helped so many people, and there were priests too, but I can’t remember their names…though Father Fred made a lot of tapes. Calyx is a Catholic-based AA group that I’ve attended, though meetings are far and few between.

The steps do have a lot of correlation with Catholic spirituality, especially Confession and making amends, which this thread is basically about.


Do u think people think highly of you if you go to confession?


I have no idea. but I don’t go so that people think highly of me

but if you’re a student and a certain prof really likes you. but you actually cheated on a test in their class, well you wouldn’t really deserve the praise or good reputation in their eyes, would you?


I think that what you are struggling with is the second great commandment…“Love your neighbor as yourself” (See Mt 22:36-40).
The answer to your dilemma lies within this commandment.
What is the most loving thing to do in a given instance?
What purpose would the revelation have?
Is it to make another feel better or to make you feel better?
Would it heal wounds or cause more hurt or bad feelings?
Would it provide proper restitution?

Confession to someone we’ve wronged can actually enhance their view of us. They might think even MORE highly of us.
Yet on the other hand, if something has passed on, it might be best to just let it alone - not bring it up again.

… if you’re a student and a certain prof really likes you. but you actually cheated on a test in their class, well you wouldn’t really deserve the praise or good reputation in their eyes, would you?

Good point - but here timing can play a big part.
There was a thread recently where the scenario was put forth wherein a person cheated on a paper in order to get an advanced degree (a Masters). This happened several years ago and they are already successfully working in their chosen field. Should they go back to the school and confess? The consensus was, “no they should not”. It would put too many people through to much “fal-der-all”. The better solution was to be sure that they did indeed know the subject, make confession to their priest and move on.
On the other hand, if you cheated last week and feel the need to come clean this week - - that would be another matter.

Like I said - there are a lot of factors that can play into this as we struggle to embrace and live out the two great commandments. Love God above all else, and love neighbor as yourself.

Hope this helps some



It depends what you mean by this. Can you elaborate?


Giving back what you stole, if you lied about someone (calumny) reveal it was a lie, if you gossiped about someone say nice things about them, pray and sacrifice for them, etc


I guess I know I’m forgiven, but I feel like God still expect us to repare the damage

but I don’t know what to do. some things were in the past, and like some of you said, will it relaly help to resurrect it?

and of course, some things aren’t reparable

I’m just very confused, I do the penance my confessor gives me but I feel like if I haven’t revealed every single sin to the person I sinned against, it’s not enough. and I do want to move on and not commit those sins again


Well if it was lustful thoughts, gossip, or something like that don’t tell them. I guess you should tell if you cheated or lied to someone. Definitely return or pay back if you stole something


Yes he does. Yet repairing the damage doesn’t automatically mean telling others your sins. Doing so might just reopen an old wound.

but I don’t know what to do. some things were in the past, and like some of you said, will it really help to resurrect it?

Exactly. And I can tell you that we ALL have these kinds of things. I have done things in the past -even distant past - that, if I think of them, still will cause me distress.
Yet - they are in the past. It is better to leave them there.

I’m just very confused, I do the penance my confessor gives me but I feel like if I haven’t revealed every single sin to the person I sinned against, it’s not enough. and I do want to move on and not commit those sins again

What I have come to is this. Remembering sins like this is the holy Spirit’s way of reminding us to NEVER do such a thing again. Such memories can be a great spur to growth.
Yet - the evil one can try to use this to tempt us to despair, or to reopen old wounds, or otherwise do harm under the guise of “making reparations”. That is why we must always always ALWAYS test these things to the great commandments of Agape.



Hi angel,

JRKH has some great advice. Are you a bit scrupulous? I have been very scrupulous about such things as well and the only thing I can say is find ONE confessor and listen to him even when you think he is wrong. Many MANY saints have said you absolutely won’t be held accountable for acts done under obedience to your confessor. It’s hard because I too have felt compelled to repair my past even going to separate priests who both told me I do not or should not go back because it will cause more harm by doing so. It likely was a temptation from satan to cause me to despair of salvation. I know how hard it is to put your trust in someone else’s hands but you must! The devil wants you to be confused and worry but right now the only healing and cure comes through a confessor who acts in God’s name.

I will pray for you, Jill


Reparation is only needed if it does not put the person confessing into further trouble or affect their family or others in any way.

For example, if a husband cheats on his wife and subsequently regrets it and sincerely confesses and is absolved there is no need for him to tell his wife as that could destroy the family.

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