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Catholic Dictionary




The ordinary condition for receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance. It is now distinguished from communal penance, which, under extraordinary circumstances, includes general absolution. It was formerly distinguished from public penance in the early Church when, in some place, the penitents were publicly identified as guilty of certain sins. Private confession of secret sins was practiced in the early Church and, according to the teaching of the popes, was of apostolic origin.