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The Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconciliation.

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In the Sacrament of Penance the faithful “obtain from God’s mercy pardon for having offended Him and at the same time reconciliation with the Church, which they have wounded by the sins and which by charity, example and prayer seek their conversion”

Rite of Penance #4


Biblical Basis

After his Resurrection,

Jesus told the apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”

John 20:23


Other names of the sacrament

  • Confession
  • Penance
  • Forgiveness

It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

CCC 1424


Biblical Basis

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful”

James 5:16


It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace".

CCC 1424


It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles.

CCC 1424


Historical Development

During the first hundred years of Christianity sinners were corrected and helped but obdurate sinners were excluded from the church until they reformed their lives.


Historical Development

In the year 150, Hermas propose that post baptismal sins can be forgiven but only once. Penance was implemented against four scandalous sins:

  • murder
  • adultery
  • heresy
  • apostasy

Historical Development

Canonical penance

  • An interior admission of sin
  • A public admission of sin in the presence of the bishop and accompanied by a sponsor
  • Enrollment to the “order of penitent”
  • A period of penance (as long as 7 years)
  • Exclusion from receiving the Eucharist
  • Reconciliation to the church

Historical Development

During the seventh to eleventh century, private confession emerges.

Irish monks confess their sins to their brother priest or their abbot.

As private confession developed, confession to a priest or bishop is required.


Historical Development

Years after, penitential books were developed which listed every kind of sin and appropriate penance.


Historical Development

Vatican II, proposed revision for the sacrament of penance, which focused on the importance of reconciliation.


Important elements

This inner conversion embraces sorrow for sin and intent to lead a new life (Contrition).

It is expressed through confession made to the church, due expiation, and amendment of life (Acts of Penance).

God grants pardon for sin through the church which works by the ministry of priests (Absolution).

Rite of Penance #6


Minister of the Sacrament

Christ has entrusted the ministry of Reconciliation to his apostles, to the bishops who are their successors and to the priests who are the collaborators of the bishops, all of whom become thereby instruments of the mercy and justice of God. They exercise their power of forgiving sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Compendium, 307


Is a confessor bound to secrecy?

Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to people every confessor, without any exception and under very severe penalties, is bound to maintain “the sacramental seal” which means absolute secrecy about the sins revealed to him in confession.

Compendium, 309


The effects of this sacrament?

  • reconciliation with God and therefore the forgiveness of sins;
  • reconciliation with the Church; recovery, if it has been lost, of the state of grace;
  • remission of the eternal punishment merited by mortal sins, and remission, at least in part, of the temporal punishment which is the consequence of sin;
  • peace, serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation;
  • and an increase of spiritual strength for the struggle of Christian living.

Compendium , 310