Can a priest decide if a sin is subjectively mortal?


Can a priest decide if a sin is subjectively mortal?

Here’s the example: A woman is using birth control. She has no intention of stopping and her reasons are serious: she lives in extreme poverty and her 12 other children are malnourished to the point of near death.

We can all suspect that this woman’s guilt in using birth control is diminished compared to the average American, but does the priest have the power to absolve if there is no contrition?

The way I think it is possible is if the priest has the power to judge whether or not a sin was committed period. In this case, he would not need to absolve.


That does not excuse her from mortal sin, using birth control even if you are at the risk of dying is a sin, and if she has no firm purpose of ammendment to not do it again then she cannot be absolved. She can use the NFP (with her husband only of course) if she can’t afford anymore kids.

closed #3

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit