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The duty to receive the sacrament of penance at least once a year. First decreed by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, it has reconfirmed many times since, especially by Pope St. Pius X in 1910 and Pope Paul VI since the Second Vatican Council. It is binding by ecclesiastical law on "everyone of the faithful of both sexes, after he has reached the age of discretion," and therefore also children or those with only venial sins. It is also binding by divine law on those with mortal sins committed since their last worthy confession and sacramental absolution.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.