The Sacrament of Confession (also called Penance or Reconciliation) exists for the purpose of forgiving serious (“mortal”) sins committed after Baptism. So, anyone guilty of a serious sin after he or she has been baptized, has to go to Confession to be absolved from (i.e., forgiven) their sins.
Nevertheless, even those who are not guilty of any serious sins—or who have never committed a serious sin—find great profit in the Sacrament of Confession. In fact, the grace of forgiveness and strength against temptation is undoubtedly the reason why they are able to avoid serious sins.
How often should I confess?
First of all: we all have to go to Confession—if we’ve been guilty of a mortal sin—at least once a year. That’s the “bare minimum” required by the Church. And this once-a-year Confession is to be made during the “Easter time”: that is, from Ash Wednesday down to Pentecost Sunday. Of course, relying on the bare minimum isn’t usually a winning formula, and the same is true of the life of grace. Many Saints and spiritual writers recommend confessing at least once a month or every two weeks.
Do even priests go to Confession? The Pope?
They do! Just like lay folk, priests, bishops, and even the Pope go to Confession to a priest.
The "Ask Father"series courtesy of Rev. Chas. Johnson, Navy chaplain, USS Theodore Roosevelt. (Photo by John Clark, Deseret News.)