Can a priest refuse to offer penance during confession?

Are there any times during confession when what is confessed is offensive to the degree that the priest can not give a “conventional” penance?.By conventional penance I mean something like saying a few prayers.Please not I’m not really interested as what kind of sins would fall into this category.What I’m asking is more of a yes or no question.Thank you very much so for your time.

The priest will tell you to do a suitable penance. If it means 5 hail marys, then it is so. If he says 1 Our father and 1 Hail Mary a day, then do so. He may also give instructions and suggestions such as attending stations of the cross and charity works within your community, abstention or any specific guidelines, etc. The bottom line is that prayer is such a useful and powerful tool for us to build the strengthen the relationship with God, so I am expecting every priest to assign prayers for the penance (at least, of course).

Do you consider what I said above “conventional”? How about this: what do you consider “unconventional penance”?

Telling you to go for a retreat and spiritual camp? You know, for some busy or less financially capable people this isn’t a good suggestion, and unless the priest knows you are the one confessing he cannot make too specific suggestions.

I feel like this question is very general. What do you mean by offensive and conventional? I know you do not want to get into specific sins, but I feel as if an example might be in order? For example, in the case of murder, might the priest make your penance to turn yourself in to the police? Is that the kind of thing you mean?

there are situations where a priest cannot absolve a sin, because it is a situation the penitent has no intention of resolving or leaving, but there is no prescribed situation where a priest would refuse to give a penance after absolution. Many priests do however suggest the penitent assign their own penance, or at times may even forget to assign a penance, but I know of nothing that fits your scenario.

There is no such thing as a “sin that is so offensive” it cannot be forgiven or that would not be assigned a penance, if the penitent is contrite and wants to stop the sinful act or condition.

Yes.If he feels you’re not sincere or trying to hide something he can refuse to give u absolution.I believe priest are able to discern ofttentimes if people are truelly sorry or not.

OP asked about penance, not absolution

Penance is symbolic. It is not complete atonement for sins. I can see no reason that penance could not be assigned.

I think some priests will try to assign a penance that will strengthen the penitent spiritually against repeating the particular sin. Don’t think this is common.

Back in the Seventies and Eighties, we got a lot of “vague penances”. Stuff like “do someone nice for the person you offended”. At which point you’d have to explain that you have no idea who you yelled at in traffic, and they’d reassign you to do something nice to somebody random. :slight_smile: So it’s definitely okay to question a penance that is practically impossible, and/or hard to understand. Also, if you can’t make out what the priest actually said as your penance. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need to.

Also, if a penance is too difficult for you and you have a good reason why it would be (ie, “I can’t quit my job and take the pilgrimage to Compostela barefoot, because my kids will starve”), you can ask for a different one.

And it doesn’t have to be anything so drastic. Usually this is something like, “Father, I can’t go out at night. Can you assign me a penance I can do during daylight?” Or, “Father, I’ll faint and go into a diabetic coma if I fast that long.” Or, “Father, I can’t think of anything ecumenical to do. What would be a nice thing? At least give me some examples.”

If you can’t go back to your original priest who gave you the penance, I thiiiink you can go to another priest in Confession, tell him about the trouble, and ask for another penance. But I don’t think you can re-assign yourself one. (Pretty much would defeat the purpose.)

Hope this helps!

Yes Clamdigger I was thinking of sins like murder.Thank for your inquiry.

Oh, okay! :thumbsup: I don’t have an answer to your question, but I found your question interesting so I was hoping you would clarify so that a person more versed in what goes into the priesthood might be able to answer it better. :smiley:

yes,you’re right.thanks

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