Can Catholic outside church go to confession?

Hello Catholic Answers…

Can a Catholic who married a non-Catholic outside the church receive the sacrament of Confession? If NOT… why not. Thank you and God bless… mbn

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed the issue of the sacrament of reconciliation and those in irregular marriages. Its focus is on the divorced and remarried, but its basic principles are applicable:

Reconciliation through sacramental confession, which opens the way to reception of the Eucharist, can only be granted in the case of repentance over what has happened and a “readiness to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.” Concretely this means that if for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, the new union cannot be dissolved, then the two partners must “bind themselves to live in complete continence”.

…Where nullity of marriage cannot be demonstrated, the requirement for absolution and reception of communion, according to the Church’s established and approved practice, is that the couple live “as friends, as brother and sister”.

A Catholic is never “outside the Church” unless they choose to be. The Church always considers those who are baptized Catholic to be sons and daughters of the Church.

In the situation you describe the individual is in a situation that is objectively against the teachings of the Church. The sacrament of reconciliation requires that we make our best effort to avoid our sins. If a person is unwilling to “make right” the irregular marriage then the objectively wrong situation is not able to be remedied and thus the meaning/purpose of the sacrament is contradicted.

The person should seek to have the marriage validated in the Church and that would allow them to be restored to full participation in the Church’s sacramental life. If there are complications that make that impossible then the couple would need to promise to live as brother and sister in order to be receive the sacraments.

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