Am I eligible to have my vows dispensed while in RCIA?


Hi everyone,

  1. Just wondering - I’m in RCIA and have already gone to my first confession. In a similar vein, being non-Catholic but intending to join the Catholic Church this coming April, am I able to have my priest dispense any personal vows I may have made (Cannon 1196)?

  2. I’m also curious what happens when a priest dispenses a vow. I read recently that the Church essentially pays the debt owed to God. Is there truth in this?

  3. Finally, if I am eligible to be dispensed and wanted to visit my pastor during confession, is it fair to enter the confessional seeking only to discuss this? Or would that be an abuse of the sacrament?

Had some trouble choosing a category for this question.


See this article:


I think I skimmed that recently. My only concern is really that I’m not eligible to have my vows dispensed before entering full communion with the Church. I ctrl-f’d for RCIA, canidate, catechumen , etc. but no luck. And searching things along the lines of “does canon law apply to canidates” hasn’t yielded much yet.

I’ll read more closely and see what shows up though.

Edit: I read it more closely and it confirmed most of what I have read elsewhere. However, I did not see priest or pastor mentioned specifically among those who have the power to dispense vows. What am I missing?


Make an appointment to speak with your pastor about this.


I will do that. Probably won’t be able to catch him anytime tomorrow or Sunday but during the week I almost certainly will.


Read Canon 1196:

Can. 1196 In addition to the Roman Pontiff, the following can dispense from private vows for a just cause…

[1] the local ordinary and the pastor… with regard to all their subjects and even travelers


Of course. I’ve read 1196 at least a dozen times or more in the last couple of days. Not sure why I didn’t refer back to that since it’s the official source. But I’m also just surprised the link - which was pretty thorough - didn’t mention the pastor by any name that I recognize.

Will sit back from the discussion for now and just try to get in touch with my pastor as soon as I can. Thank you all.


To my limited knowledge the only vows the Church considers valid outside of it are those of matrimony.
Only vows made when one is a Catholic can be dispensed. You dispense the vows you made outside the Church when you ask to baptized or confirmed.


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