Q:

How does Catholic confession work?

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Quick Answer

According to Catholic doctrine, to make a confession, one must first have the desire to acknowledge the sins in their daily life through their words, actions and omissions. This desire must be expressed in confession of sins before a priest, a step in the individual's intention to return to God.

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How does Catholic confession work?
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Full Answer

Confession, also known as the Sacrament of Penance, according to the Catholic Church, is the means by which God forgives sins after baptism. The means of obtaining forgiveness through confession includes both the act of confession itself as well as penance.

When an individual enters the confessional, he has the option of kneeling behind a screen or being face-to-face with the priest. During the confession, the priest offers words of advice or ask questions. When the confession is over, the priest assigns a penance. The penance may be in the form of a set of prayers, or a task such as doing a good deed for your enemy every day. The purpose of the penance is to diminish temporal punishment. The priest then says some words of absolution, which represent the forgiveness of the church. During the absolution, one may make the sign of the cross. The Priest may then finish with a few words of encouragement. The process of confession and penance allows the individual to return to a balanced and godly life.

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