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Imperfect contrition

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Imperfect contrition (also known as attrition) in Catholic theology is a desire not to sin for a reason other than love of God. Imperfect contrition is contrasted with perfect contrition.

While attrition does not produce justification, it disposes the soul to receive grace in the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was the first council to comment on the matter. It defined contrition (perfect or imperfect) as "sorrow of soul, and a hatred of sin committed, with a firm purpose of not sinning in the future" [1] However, while perfect contrition is motivated out of a love of God, imperfect contrition is motivated for other reasons, such as "the consideration of the turpitude of sin or from the fear of hell and punishment" [2] Therefore, it declared, "If any man assert that attrition . . . is not a true and a profitable sorrow; that it does not prepare the soul for grace, but that it makes a man a hypocrite, yea, even a greater sinner, let him be anathema."

Jesus's invocations in the Gospels, of the threat of hell, are held to justify the belief that imperfect contrition can be a source of grace.

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