QWe were told by our parish priest some years ago when communal penance was accepted, that it wasn’t necessary to elaborate on how many times the sins were committed, only that one had contrition for his sins. Also, he said that a general description was all that was necessary, say for instance, a sin such as impurity could cover many types of sin in that category.

AIf you went along with the instructions of your pastor, then be assured that your sins have been forgiven. For pastoral reasons, perhaps because of the large number of penitents present and the small number of confessors, he felt justified in keeping confessions as brief as possible. Under normal circumstances, sins of impurity (which you mentioned) would have to be confessed more specifically. Impurity embraces lust (desire), masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, and adultery. (2nd edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, p.564, 2528). Those specific titles can be confessed without going into details. Some general idea as to numbers should be given as well; e.g., two times a week, or month, or year, so the confessor can tell whether the sin is habitual or just a momentary lapse of weakness.

His advice to the penitent would change accordingly.

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