Can an unbaptized person goto confession?


My good friend who is learning about the faith would like to know if she can still goto the confessional and have her sins absolved by the priest?

I told her yes, of course, but now I’m not so sure.


Your friend can certainly talk with a priest and get advice from him. But the title of your thread says “unbaptized person.” Baptism is the gateway to all the other sacraments. And it forgives all sins. If this is something that she might be interested in, she should talk with the parish about RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.


No, she hasn’t been baptized yet but would like to get stuff off her chest. Is it forbidden for her to goto the confessional, Catechismically speaking?


I don’t think so unless she was at death’s door she could ask for a priest.
RCIA would be perfect for her if she has expressed an interest in knowing more about the Catholic faith, why don’t you ring up your nearest Church and see where and times of the classes so she can attend.

God Bless and walk with the Lord.


After a cursory glance at the Catechism, I notice that it makes no reference to unbaptised people going to have confessions heard.

If your friend makes an appointment with their local priest, though, and asks when the meeting commences if what he or she says can be spoken of “Under the Seal of Confession”, then I don’t see why they couldn’t. I don’t think a priest would refuse to hear a person’s troubles if the person who came to them wasn’t catholic.

If she’s learning about the faith, why not go directly to the priest, and ask her question of him?


No absolution


No, absolutely not. Of course, a good Father Confessor would probably still hear what she has to say and give counsel, and even a non-sacramental blessing. But she could not be absolved because Baptism, as the gateway to the other sacraments, is a must before any other sacraments could be received. Baptism wipes away all sin, venial and mortal, as well as all punishment, eternal and temporal due to sin. Absolution is only for sins committed after baptism.


No one is forbidden to enter the confessional. However, she should start by explaining that she’s not baptized but would like to talk with the priest and go from there. Or perhaps she would simply like to make an appointment outside of confession times to talk with a priest. Then she’d know she has uninterrupted time to get counseling (if that’s what she’s looking for) or ask questions (if that’s what she wants). Usually when people go to confession it’s pretty short, in part because others are waiting and you don’t want to take up too much time. With an appointment at another time there wouldn’t be the time pressure.


When you say she’s not baptized, do you mean she wasn’t baptized as a Catholic or not at all?

Catholics recognize Trinitarian Baptism, that is, not Jehovahs Witness or Mormon (but she’d know that). If she was Baptized Methodist or the like, yeah, Catholics recognize that.


Even if your friend has a valid Baptism, it is best to make it clear that she is not a practicing Catholic.

Jimmy Akin has this exact question answered here:
Q: Can a non-Catholic go to Confession?

**A: Yes, under specified conditions. **Confession is one of three sacraments which canon 844 allows non-Catholics to receive in specified circumstances:

“844:3 Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to members of the oriental churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they ask on their own for the sacraments are properly disposed. This holds also for members of other churches which, in the judgment of the Apostolic See, are in the same condition as the oriental churches as far as these sacraments are concerned.

“844:4 If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the national conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community, and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

The first paragraph applies principally to Eastern Christians (those in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Coptic Church, the Abyssinian Church, the Armenian Church, etc.) and states that (…)

(… further down we have…)
Non-Christians and those who share the Christian faith but who have not been baptized cannot receive confession since baptism is the door to the rest of the sacraments.
(…please click the link to read the remaining article)


In theory, she could go to confession; however, the priest would not be able to grant absolution if she reveals that she is unbaptized. On the other hand, if she conceals that she is unbaptized, the absolution that the priest gave would be invalid.

Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.


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