Can absolution be denied a habitual sinner?

I went to the 2014 Napa Valley Catholic Men’s Conference.

In his talk, Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea said that a person who’s coming to confession for the same sins (say sins related to pornography) should not be given absolution right away. He said that not only that the penitent will go to hell, the priest who gave him absolution will go to hell as well.

It doesn’t sound right. For one thing, how can the priest go to hell if he can’t read the penitent’s heart? Also wouldn’t this practice withhold the needed grace the penitent need to fight the temptations of sin and spiral downward from there?

I have no idea on what Church document he would base such statements. The confessor should always presume, unless there is evidence to the contrary, the repentance of the sinner who is confessing. The Pontifical Council for the Family’s Vademcum for Confessors deals with issues of contraception and chastity, but its general principles are applicable:

  1. The minister of Reconciliation should always keep in mind that the sacrament has been instituted for men and women who are sinners. Therefore, barring manifest proof to the contrary, he will receive the penitents who approach the confessional taking for granted their good will to be reconciled with the merciful God, a good will that is born, although in different degrees, of a contrite and humbled heart (Psalm 50:19).37

The same document, which deals with the issue of contraception, specifically states that repeated falling into sin is not grounds for denying absolution (emphasis added):

  1. The confessor is bound to admonish penitents regarding objectively grave transgressions of God’s law and to ensure that they truly desire absolution and God’s pardon with the resolution to re-examine and correct their behaviour. **Frequent relapse into sins **of contraception does not in itself constitute a motive for denying absolution; absolution cannot be imparted, however, in the absence of sufficient repentance or of the resolution not to fall again into sin.

And further on in the document it restates this:

  1. Sacramental absolution is not to be denied to those who, repentant after having gravely sinned against conjugal chastity, demonstrate the desire to strive to abstain from sinning again, notwithstanding relapses. In accordance with the approved doctrine and practice followed by the holy Doctors and confessors with regard to habitual penitents, the confessor is to avoid demonstrating lack of trust either in the grace of God or in the dispositions of the penitent, by exacting humanly impossible absolute guarantees of an irreproachable future conduct.
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