Why do we not reveal our sins when making amends with someone?

I know we are not obligated to revel our sins to people we sinned against in confession

but as a matter of decency or principle, shouldn’t we? why would they not deserve to know that we did something wrong?

I’m just trying to understand why, in general, we don’t do this. except maybe if someone else is being blamed for what you did.

when would it do more harm and what kinds?


Somebody comes up to you and says, “I just wanted to say I’m sorry, because I was lusting after you the other day and had lots of impure thoughts.”

Or, “I’m sorry I indulged in wild fantasies of your death after you got the promotion instead of me.”

I’m guessing you wouldn’t like it much.

I expect that sometimes, to admit offenses to the victim would be to risk harm by way of retaliation.

Why is there this perception that those sinned against in secret somehow “deserve” or “have a right” to know?

No, they do not have a* right *to know, and despite us being the sinners as we are, we are all still entitled to our good names and reputations.


well why don’t they have a right to know? some injustice was done against them, even if it was in secret

I agree with you, but ‘entitled’ is a dangerous word, especially in this case. It’s too easy to give ones own good name and reputation more importance than it deserves.

Always good to meet a fellow Calgarian, though. :tiphat: I’ve missed Canada ever since I moved away–I used to be in Springbank.

Fine. Instead of “entitled”, let’s just say, to which “everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect” (CCC 2479).

Hopefully, you find yourself back here in the old stomping grounds by the Rockies.

I turn the question back on its head. Why DO they have the right to know? I asked the question first.

Really, there’s no good answer to that. People, especially here in the developed West, just seem to accept that proposition at face value, that somehow, those wronged have a “right” to know but somehow cannot explain why.

On the other hand, I can list at least a couple of reasons why they should not have a “right” to know.

*]The sin is past, its effects repaired, and all is well. Revealing the sin may only cause greater harm, like unnecessary pain and conflict.
*]Even the sinner, especially the repentant, does not need to destroy his reputation, especially if the one sinned against is an integral member of his circle, such as family or workplace.

It seems to go against the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” We certainly don’t tell our children to say mean things to other kids whenever they think them.

Going up to someone out of the blue and saying, “Sorry I thought you’re a pain in the butt,” doesn’t promote Christian charity.

This reminds me of my friend who had a very misguided idea of how people *deserve *to know each others’ thoughts. She went up to her boyfriend’s best friend and told him she was extremely attracted to him, because she thought he had the right to know… Not surprisingly the friend reacted negatively and there was a strained awkwardness afterwards.

ABSOLUTELY NOT. Your confession is between you, the priest and God. NOBODY else is entitled to know.


Even restitution is called for if possible depending on the nature of the sin. But in the case of many secret sins, complete transparency would be a beautiful thing-it’s what we’re called to ultimately-but it could only work perfectly in a perfect world where no sin would exist anyway.

Why then do we have the Seal of the Confessional? Why are priests required even to die rather than betray what was said to them in Confession?

As in the examples given above, I for one would be creeped out if someone told me they’d had such thoughts about me. So that would be Too Much Information. It would be hurting me which would be a new sin. Best to let it go, which is why we have Confession and absolution anyway, so we can. The best way to proceed would be to simply work on avoiding such sins in the future and being kind and respectful toward the people one had bad thoughts about that were confessed. Maybe do an anonymous good for them, have a Mass said for them. That would be a positive way to make amends.

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