The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in
three actions of the penitent and the priest’s absolu-
tion. The penitent’s acts are repentance, confession or
disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to
make reparation and do works of reparation.
Repentance (also called contrition) must be inspired by
motives that arise from faith. If repentance arises from
love of charity for God, it is called “perfect” contrition; if
it is founded on other motives, it is called “imperfect.”
One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and
with the Church, must confess to a priest all the un-
confessed grave sins he remembers after having care-
fully examined his conscience. The confession of
venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nev-
ertheless strongly recommended by the Church.
The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts
of “satisfaction” or “penance” to be performed by the
penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and
to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ.
Only priests who have received the faculty of absolv-
ing from the authority of the Church can forgive sins
in the name of Christ.
The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
— reconciliationwith God by which the penitent recov-
— reconciliation with the Church;
— remission of the eternal punishment incurred by
— remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments
resulting from sin;
—peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual con-
— an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian
Individual and integral confession of grave sins fol-
lowed by absolution remains the only ordinarymeans
of reconciliation with God and with the Church.
Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remis-
sion of temporal punishment resulting from sin for
themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory.