Very important question


i tried to ask this in the other apologetic section but i think i messed something up…

i have a friend who is very seriously considering the Church… they are afraid that they would have to confess all of their sins from the last 20 years for their first confession… and they are afraid of what would happen if they forgot some. does anybody know about this for converts? are sins washed away by joining the Church or is confession still necessary for all the things that happened outside the Church, and what happens if they forget a mortal sin and do not confess it? can they perhaps blanket their sins by saying things in broad terms?

i need kind of a quick answer because their family is pushing very hard against this and i really want to help this person, i am afraid that if i cannot answer they will give up :frowning:

muchas gracias
Dominus Vobiscum


It depends on whether the person was previously baptized as a non-Catholic. For non-baptized people, they are Baptized when they are welcomed into the Church and that washes away everything.

If the person was previously baptized, he/she would need to make a Confession covering the time from when he/she was baptized up to the present. The same rules apply as to the rest of us Catholics. If you honestly forget something, it is still forgiven but if you leave something out on purpose - no.

If you look through this forum you will see many personal accounts of Catholics who were away from the Sacraments for 20 or more years. It is the same as for a convert.

Good luck with your friend. I will be praying for him or her this Easter season.

When I came into the Church I was very much looking forward to my first official Confession, I had some things I wanted to go over with Fr Philip. We chatted for a bit and he proceeded to offer me Absolution and I had to ask him to hear my full confession. He was a little surprised but gladly agreed.

… just from my experience!! I believe a converts first confession is pretty straight forward, 20 years of issues could take two hours to hear.

You could also call your Parish Priest, he could give a definate answer.

Well, presuming that your friend has been baptised already (they wouldn’t need to be rebaptised) they would have to make a confession. It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds.

Firstly they only need to confess the serious (mortal) sins they committed during that time, not ALL of 'em.

Secondly, even if they forget some, all are forgiven. There are good Examination of Conscience guides which can help them to be well-prepared too.

As long as they don’t deliberately fail to mention any grave sins, out of embarrasment or whatever, they’ll be fine. Confession is not meant to be a memory test or a school exam :slight_smile:

I’m one of those people who was away from the Church for 25 years. When I came back I did have to make a confession that covered those 25 years.

I made an appointment with the priest and we met in his office. He told me to just “hit the highlights” and not to worry about trying to remember every sin. That’s impossible.

I brought a list with me and read it. We discussed some issues I had questions about and he gave me some spiritual direction. The whole thing took about 45 minutes and he talked more than I did.

It was a great experience and I now go to confession regularly.