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Consider the following scenario:

  • Yesterday I confessed my sins in a Catholic Church.
  • Today I commit a grave sin
  • Tomorrow I get in a car accident and as a result suffer from memory loss
  • In two days time and thereafter, I no longer remember the sin I had committed two day prior

How does the forgotten sin affect one's salvation?

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  • Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy *remember thou me* for thy goodness' sake, O LORD. Psalm 25:7. Remember not my sins and transgressions . . . . . remember Thou me.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 28, 2023 at 20:59
  • And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 22:16.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 28, 2023 at 21:01

1 Answer 1

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."

When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, "for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know."

So you cannot and need not confess what you do not remember. The sacrament is not a system of bookkeeping, but of love. The sinner who confesses is trying to restore the love between the sinner and God (and the Church, other people, and so on, but first: God). God gladly offers His forgiveness and the restoration of the loving relation that the sinner damaged.

The problem with not confessing all sins regards the sins you do remember but wish to not mention to the priest. In this you try to hide them from God, and you are not really trying to restore the relationship of love with God. Now that is a big problem. Really, truly, forgetting a sin, does not impact your willingness to confess and to restore the relationship, so there is no problem there.

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  • Thank you for your answer
    – Anon
    Jun 30, 2023 at 12:06

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