Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 76.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

23. The Number of Sins in Confession  

The declaration of the number of sins is another feature completing the Sacrament. The penitent must give the number of his mortal sins so far as he can; if he knows exactly how often he has fallen into a mortal sin, he must state that number of times, neither increasing nor diminishing; if, despite careful examination and reflection he cannot arrive at the real number, he must give it as near as possible, adding the words "about" or "at least"; in so doing he fulfils his obligation, for he has done what he could, which is sufficient to enable a judgment to be pronounced humano modo. Should the penitent, after having thus confessed in all good faith, discover later on a more accurate number than that confessed, he is not obliged to make another confession to supply this number; nor should he disquiet himself, for the round numbers given in the first confession included everything; it is only when the newly discovered number is considerably greater than the vague estimate of his first confession that he is obliged to confess again, because the number, and, in consequence, the sin, was not perfectly confessed, since a far greater number cannot be considered as included in his former round estimate. ¹

¹ This is communis theologorum doctrina. Cf. S. Alph. 1. c. Lib. VI. n. 466; Reuter, 1. c. Tract. V. De Confess, n. 312; Lugo, Disp. 16, Sect. 2.