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Carol ConcernedAboutMyCounsel wrote:

Dear AskACatholic staff,

This has been weighing me down for a couple of days now:

Back when I was at college, I cheated on some assessments, including my final thesis. I cannot remember how extreme the cheating was but nevertheless it has caught up to me now.

I confessed this sin recently and the priest said that part of my restitution could be to help someone else through their studies.

I asked him whether I would be required to give up on my post graduate studies and follow up training since both, the studies and training, depended on my thesis marks — the thesis which I cheated on. I also asked if I should ask for my degree to be revoked. The priest's response was no I didn't have to do either.

The reason I am not happy with the priest's advice is because I believe it does not address the damage that has been done. Besides, I find that I am still wrongly benefiting from my college qualifications by showing my academic [transcript/marks] as evidence that I have completed my studies — which I partly cheated on.

  • Doesn't that still count as dishonesty/cheating?

Thank you,

Carol

  { What should I do if I am not happy with the priest's counsel and advice in Confession? }

Mike replied:

Dear Carol —

Thanks for the question.

Our personal opinion of the priest counsel in Confession does not matter.

If the priest in the Confession says, I absolve you, then your sins are forgiven.

As to the restitution, what he gives you comes from our Blessed Lord the Christ.

In a hypothetical situation, if a Catholic received penance from an unfaithful priest whose penance, to the penitent, seemed incorrect, the priest will be culpable for this at his particular judgment, not yours, so do not worry!

You said:
Besides, I find that I am still wrongly benefiting from my college qualifications by showing my academic [transcript/marks] as evidence that I have completed my studies — which I partly cheated on.

  • Doesn't that still count as dishonesty/cheating?

If you truly do not know the material provided in these courses, you should take the courses over.

That said, go with what the priest’s advised and be at peace. That is my two cents. Fr. Jonathan may have something else to say on this.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Mike,

I like your answer. You have to believe that God forgives.

Carol, Go and sin no more.

Fr. Jonathan

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