Why is imperfect contrition sufficient for Confession, but not outside of Confession?


The Church teaching which we are bound by is crystal clear and it is the Church teaching and not our opinions that count.

CCC 1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins , but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.



You can keep quoting that but I will keep believing that the God depicted in both the Old and the New Testaments will always forgive any soul that repents. Always. How he may accomplish that is not my business but that he does is not in any degree in doubt to me for the entire Bible proclaims it in Neon right from Eden, through Israel to Revelation. :woman_shrugging: I would have to believe in a different God to accept that God would reject a truly repentant soul.



Your view deny’s the Church teaching. Remember that Christ gave the Church authority to teach in matters of faith and morals. That means all teachings are fully backed by the authority of God.
Please also bear in mind that Christ said what the Church binds on Earth is bound in Heaven. That means Church teachings are not in error. Teachings cannot be changed by God otherwise he would be a liar and we know that is impossible.



My view denies your rigid understanding of the church teaching, which is decontextualized from everything else the church teaches about salvation and God’s nature.



That is not my understanding and I don’t have to have my private interpretation. It is the clear Church teaching that perfect contrition forgives sins but imperfect contrition does not.
You are offering your opinion. I am quoting the teaching of the Church.



This is also church teaching "A humble and contrite heart you will not spurn, O Lord."



Does not negate CCC 1453. Imperfect contrition does not forgive mortal sins.
Imperfect contrition requires forgiveness and absolution in Confession



So, according to you, a Baptist or Jew who repents sincerely of his sins without perfect charity and dies before he has grown spiritually, beyond beginner’s mercenary “love”, is going to hell because no confession, yes? Not even if the last moments of his life were spent pleading for God’s mercy, yes?

God will just look at him and say, “Look, buddy, I know you recognize you’re a sinner; and I know you’ve asked for my mercy; but I’m sorry, your little love is too little for my taste. Off to Satan you go!” You really believe the God of Israel and David and Jesus Christ could do that?



In addition, lets imagine a Buddhist or secular person or an atheist who had beaten or killed or hurt someone, who was later moved by empathy for his victim to ask them or their families for forgiveness and make some ammends; But they could not muster an act of pure love for God as motivation…Are we saying that the God we believe in, the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the one David sang to in the Psalms, he would not care about such repentance?..Is that what we really believe actually happens?



You are completely digressing. The thread is about Catholics who are in a state of mortal sin. Try to stay on topic.



No, you are digressing. The thread is about contrition and forgiveness. Do try to stay on topic. :wink:



No, you are wrong. Look at the thread title please. That applies ONLY to Catholics.

If you want to discuss salvation outside the Catholic Church, e.g. the Buddhists, atheists that you referred to then there is a thread currently running on that topic which you are welcome to join.
This thread is not about that.



You are saying that now only because I posed challenges to you about God and mercy that you find difficult to deal with with such a rigid approach to that teaching on imperfect contrition. I have made the point repeatedly that the Church’s entire teaching on God’s nature and salvation outside the physical boundaries of the church which includes confession, and the Bible itself, do not allow for such a wooden understanding of that CCC article; Such an understanding requires a strange compartmentalization of Catholic teaching on mercy and forgiveness.

Indeed it requires a leap to believe that God would ignore a repentant soul’s plea for mercy just because it hadn’t managed an act of pure charity. We have no way to know how he’d accomplish it, but I have no doubt in my mind that anyone* in hell is not there because they repented and God said “Nope!”. Not one. Not even Satan.



I completely accept the Church teaching that imperfect contrition does not forgive sins outside Confession, as all Catholics are bound to do.
You said you don’t accept the Church teaching. So be it. Little point in continuing.



Those examples could easily apply to many Catholics. Most don’t even know their faith. But they know enough to repent and make amends for very “bad” things. In addition, even informed Catholics can die before they get to confession and they may not manage an act of pure charity before the confession. They could die right on the way to confession. So still applies.

Because your interpretation would mean God would say, “Oops! So sorry. I know you were already repentant and that’s why you were going to confession, but look: you should’ve got to confession earlier. No confession, no forgiveness. Off to Satan you go, now!” I highly doubt you really think this is what happens to such a soul.

I do not accept your interpretation. I said that teaching may only indicate that God himself has to supply what is lacking in our acts of repentance, whether that means applying the grace of the sacrament of confession or some other grace we cannot understand.

What I do know is that God will never, ever, be the one to turn away a repentant soul. It is us who turn away. It’s never God who turns us away when we move towards him: Never. Indeed it is impossible for us to move towards him without him first calling us and supplying us the grace to do so in the first place. Hell’s doors are locked from the inside, not outside.




If a person desires to go to the sacrament because they know they need confession, therefore intending to go, then by definition, they are already sorry for their sins.



I do not believe this to be true at all. This is not the God of Mercy Pope JPII wrote about in his two encyclicals on Mercy and the Holy Spirit. That’s very arbitrary and unmerciful, to take away eternal life from a person who was going to confess. Why would a God who went as far as the humiliating death on a cross keep a soul from heaven that had determined to be reconciled with him? Makes no sense. :woman_shrugging:



agreed …



I found this talk by Fr. Spitzer; and what he says about repentance to match my own sense of what the church really means. In fact he describes the sort of wooden picture of God implied on this thread as "a completely false caricature" of God. He says specifically an imperfect contrition “would be enough for God” to lead you to Purgatory. He says God will accept any genuine repentance a person makes on their death bed even if it’s not done “the right way”; and whaddya know? He uses the parable of the prodigal son.

So perhaps perfect contrition is sufficient to perfectly undo sin, including all reparation due from it, but God will accept imperfect contrition from sinners. "He will not refuse." Says, Fr. Spitzer. And I agree! Anything else would be a repudiation of the whole Bible, right from Genesis to Revelation. :woman_shrugging:

For that is not the God who was in Eden with Adam, nor the one who dealt for hundreds of years with Israelites, nor the one who had a relationship with David; and above all, is certainly not the one revealed as “Abba” by Our Lord in the New Testament.

Watch the first few minutes started at 4 minutes. Enjoy!



The individual opinion of a priest or whoever is irrelevant. It is only what the Church actually teaches that counts.
Perfect contrition forgives mortal sins if someone dies before getting to Confession.
Imperfect contrition does NOT forgive sins if someone dies before getting to Confession.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.