The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Penance, or Confession) has three elements: conversion, confession and celebration. In it we find God's unconditional forgiveness; as a result we are called to forgive others. Through Reconciliation, Christians are freed from sins committed after Baptism.
The Sacrament has four elements, three on the part of the penitent (contrition, confession and satisfaction) and one on the part of the minister of the Sacrament (absolution).
Catholics distinguish between two types of sin: Mortal sins are a grave violation of God's law that turns man away from God. Someone who is aware of having committed mortal sins must repent of having done so, and must confess them in order to benefit from the Sacrament. Venial sins, the kind that "does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God", can be remitted by contrition and reception of other Sacraments, but they too are rightly and usefully declared in confession.
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