Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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The precept of the Church to receive the sacrament of penance on reaching the age of reason. First decreed by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the law was confirmed by the Council of Trent, which condemned anyone who "denies that each and every one of Christ's faithful of both sexes is bound to confess once a year" (Denzinger 1708). The prescription was repeated and clarified by Pope St. Pius X in 1910 and again restated by the Holy See in 1973, ordering an end to experiments that postponed the sacrament of penance until after First Communion: "This precept, accepted into practice throughout the universal Church, brought and continues to bring much fruit for the Christian life and perfection of the spirit."See Also: SANCTUS PONTIFEX