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In the Judeo-Christian tradition, acknowledgment of sinfulness, in public or private, regarded as necessary for divine forgiveness. In the Temple period, Yom Kippur included a collective expression of sinfulness, and the day continues in Judaism as one of prayer, fasting, and confession. The early Christian Church followed John the Baptist's practice of confession before baptism, but soon instituted confession and penance for the forgiveness of sins committed after baptism. The fourth Lateran Council (1215) required annual confession. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches consider penance a sacrament, but most Protestant churches do not.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on confession, visit Britannica.com.