Contrition in the Roman Catholic theology, is perfect or thorough repentance (contritio cordis), as distinguished from attrition, or imperfect repentance, which is not adequate to justification without penance ( SEE ATTRITION for a fuller statement). The Council of Trent makes contrition part of the matter of the sacrament of penance. "The acts of the penitent, namely, contrition, confession, and satisfaction, are the matter, as it were, of this sacrament, which, inasmuch as they are required by divine appointment in order to the completeness of the sacrament, and the full and perfect remission of sins, are for this reason called the parts of penance. . . . . Contrition, which holds the first place in the above-mentioned acts of the penitent, is the sorrow and detestation which the mind feels for past sin, with a purpose of sinning no more. Now this emotion of contrition was always necessary in order to obtain the pardon of sins; and when a man has sinned after baptism, it prepares him for the remission of sin, if joined with confidence in the mercy of God, and an earnest desire of performing whatever is necessary to the proper reception of the sacrament. . . . . The council further teaches that although it may sometimes happen that this contrition is perfect in charity, and reconciles a man to God before the sacrament of penance is actually received, nevertheless the reconciliation is not to be ascribed to contrition without the desire of the sacrament, which was in fact included in it." — Canons of Trent, sess. 14, chap. 4.
It will be observed from the preceding quotations that the Church of Rome teaches that we are to be truly grieved or sorry on account of our sins; that we are to hate them; and that we must purpose or resolve to forsake them. All this is excellent so far as it goes. But one essential element or mark of true repentance is entirely omitted, or so slightly referred to that this sorrow or hatred of sin, together with all good purposes of amendment, are counteracted, or may be substituted by additional resolutions to do better in future, by priestly absolution, by penances, and by the doctrine of attrition or imperfect contrition. The deficiency to which reference is made is forsaking sin. This practical act is overlooked, counteracted, or rendered unnecessary by the resolutions of amendment, absolution, penances, and whatever may pertain to them. — Elliott, Delineation of Romanism, bk. 10, chap. 2, § 1.