Digest of terms

confession

admission of responsibility, guilt, or sin, usually but not necessarily with a religious connotation. For some, e.g. Jews, Christians and Muslims, confession is made either collectively or individually to God. Thus, encouragement to confess moral failings is a regular feature of Christian life, in expectation of forgiveness which may be mediated through the church, as notably in the Roman Catholic tradition, or directly from God - with the proviso that forgiving of others is a built-in accompaniment of being forgiven oneself. For some religious believers, e.g. Buddhists, confession is not to God so no divine forgiveness is sought, though mutual confession between pairs is part of the regular routine in a monastic setting, where it may be regarded more as an aid to greater self-understanding and awareness, and an aid in overcoming temptation to future wrongdoing. In some left or right wing political settings, e.g. forms of Communism, it has been used to discipline a guilty person - public confession of moral failings (perhaps induced by so-called brain-washing, or indeed physical torture) then functioning as a necessary part of the punishment routine. Sadly, precedents for this are found historically in a Christian context with the work of the Inquisition.

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