Can a fallen away Catholic receive reconciliation?


I’m a lapsed Catholic, married outside of the Church, but starting to attend again. Am I allowed to go confess my sins to a priest and be absolved?


Hi AlieMarie728,

Nothing you have stated necessarily prevents you from going to confession, you would just need to be sure to mention all of that in confession. But you should schedule an appointment with a priest and explain the situation. This is the best way to come back as it has a larger sense of formality with it, plus the priest can review your entire situation and if there’s anything additional needed, they can usually take care of it right then and there.

Plus it’s always nice to make an act of faith and reaffirm your beliefs in Catholicism. Welcome home!


A fallen away Catholic can always go to Reconciliation, but a condition for your Absolution
“may be” that you don’t have sexual relations with your spouse until your marriage is
“normalized”/accepted/blessed by the Church.

Be clear, complete and precise about your marriage situation so that the Priest can advise
you properly and, hopefully, give you Absolution.

If you do get Absolution, I encourage you to receive Communion ASAP and to attend Mass


Absolutely! Confession is exactly the best first step for you to take (and for us all to take, of course! :)).

As you were married outside the Church, depending on your situation, there would likely be something to do to straighten all that out (which would be relatively simple if it is you and your husband’s first marriage, but a little more involved if not). But it is not insurmountable and Confession is where you would start.

Welcome home! :wave:


The term is “convalidated”.


Go to your local parish and ask the priest about your situation.

It may or may not be more complicated than meets the eye

Either way, talk to the parish priest.


Yes. Being “fallen away” does not mean one cannot go to Confession, but like everyone else who goes, you need to do a thorough examination of conscience (ie are you married legitimately in the Church, and if not what about fornication) and be sorry for your sins, not conceal mortal sins you know about and list their number and kind.

Be sure to have the proper disposition.


Being in an invalid marriage can make one ineligible to receive absolution from the priest. This is something that can be addressed in confidence with the priest and then rectified through convalidation or other measures in order to return to full communion. But the obstacle of an invalid marriage is a greater one than having merely left the faith, and so more is needed than just a simple confession.


In your status you say you were born Catholic, which does not specify if you went through all the 4 sacraments of iniciation.
Baptism, Communion, Reconcialtion and Confirmation.
If this is the case then what the previous posters already stated is what you need to do. If you were only Baptized then you will need to attend RCIA in order to complete your catechesis to be fully accepted into the Church.
In any event, welcome home and hope your journey is filled by God.


RCIA is not for Catholics. Generally, parishes will have Adult Confirmation classes that can cover adults who fell away in their youth. Then again, some parishes will just stick you into RCIA anyway as “one-size-fits-all”. A conversation with your priest is what is definitively needed here, no matter what the solution may be, the priest can direct you to the proper channels for it.


To be absolved, you will have to get your marriage right with the Church. There are ways to do that, as long as you were not previously married (validly).

I was divorced when I fell away. In order to reconcile, I had to lose girlfriends with whom I had sexual relations. That was easy enough. But with a marriage, I think it might be a little more difficult. But if there is nothing prohibiting you from marrying your husband in the Church, I doubt it would take very long to fix. The big problems come when divorced Catholics remarry. That’s where the painful decisions have to be made.


Absolutely, positively. No one here knows your full and total situation, so the best thing to do is go to your nearest parish and speak with your priest. He will help you to get everything right. He will guide you on the best path.

I was a lapsed Catholic too and the best place I found myself was in the confessional and returning home to the Catholic faith.

God’s arms are open to everyone. I am sure your parish priest will put you on the right track.

God bless.


Welcome home! I would definitely recommend an appointment with a priest, and laying out any barriers that may be present. Sometimes a spouse may not be as supportive of a return to the Church as we’d hope and resist participation in convalidation (there’s a way around it), there are time constraints that make classes impossible, etc.

Sometimes, it really is about the parish whether Catholics can “come home” easily or not, and if you don’t find arms open wide and calls returned, don’t be afraid to call the next parish over.

I am so incredibly thankful for my parish, and for the welcome in our community. I pray for that for you.


Why would the church accept a baptism from other faiths but a marriage in another faith be invalid?


It might not be invalid at all. It depends upon how it was done and by whom. The bishop can regularize the marriage if so.


The OP’s marriage appears to be invalid because of “lack of canonical form”. Catholics are bound to be married in the Church by a representative thereof unless they obtain the proper permissions first. Therefore, a marriage by a baptized Catholic outside the Church without permission is always invalid. It’s also a very easy nullity case and an easy thing to convalidate, when it is the first marriage for each party.

Most marriages outside the Church are valid. A marriage by two non-Catholics who are not otherwise impeded is going to be recognized as valid. In fact, if they are both baptized it is even sacramental. Non-Catholics are not obliged to observe any particular canonical form, so even those married by a Justice of the Peace or by a “mail-order minister” enjoy the favor of the law.

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