Is it the duty or right of a priest to absolve you of your sins in the Confessional?

A priest once posted on Ask a Priest/Deacon which is obsolete now that a priest can refuse absolution in the confessional if he does not feel the person has a firm purpose of amendment
regarding the sin to amend it but he had only done it once.


Priests and bishops, by virtue of the Holy Orders, have authority to absolve and to not absolve (John 20:23).

To presume a “right” to absolution no matter what, that is, in the lack of all the proper aspects (contrition, confession, reparation, etc. I don’t recall the exact wording now) would not be far from the sin of presumption against the Holy Spirit :shrug:

To learn what we should all know about this, check out the Catechism: The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

There’s two issues of access to absolution here: 1. Access to a priest or bishop to ‘go to Confession’, and, 2. Access to absolution once the celebration of the sacrament has begun.

With regard to 1: Canon Law says that the faithful have a right to reasonable access to the sacraments. The ‘reasonable’ part means you can’t drunk call a priest at 3 AM and ask for the sacrament because you’re in a crying jag. :slight_smile: On the other hand, where priests and bishops are available, they should have a reasonable schedule of ‘hearing confessions’ that the majority of people can make and be available by appointment for the rest.

With regard to 2: If you express appropriate sorrow (contrition or attrition) and sincerely confess your sins expressing your desire to attempt to change your sinning ways, then the priest/bishop must absolve. If the priest/bishop has a moral certitude that you’re not sorry, that your mocking the sacrament, that you’re involved in some cheap TV-movie ploy to silence him by telling him about future plans to bomb the White House, that you have absolutely no intention to try to change your sinning ways, or that you aren’t actually confessing anything, just chatting or rambling or confused; well then, no absolution for you – the priest/bishop can withhold absolution.

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