Can I still go to Vatican II Confession in good conscience?

I was recently told by a tradionalist Catholic that the sacraments of the Novus Ordo have ceased to be valid since Vatican II, i.e. they have changed the form, matter or intention of the sacraments thus making them null and void. He specifically said that Reconciliation is no longer valid since the Church no longer truly recognizes sin as sin, at least how it has traditionally viewed sin, its effects and consequences, until Vatican II. Is this true or even possible? If so, how can you be sure that your sins are forgiven? They also said that since I now know this that I cannot keep going to “Novus Ordo” confession in good conscience. There are not any traditionalist churches in my area so I am in grave danger of losing my soul?

I must say that priests are very inconsistent in this area - what is sin -, at least in my experience in the confessional. There have been times when I’ve confessed sins that I knew were sins and the priest pooh-poohed it, saying it wasn’t a sin. There seems to be no consistency in this area - since I’ve asked a number of priests questions about it and I get a different answer everytime. How have the sacraments/views on sin changed since Vatican II? (I’ve known nothing else).

Dear Zim,

There is no doubt that many priests are either uniformed or just lax in their fidelity to the Church’s teachings and that this is reflected in their advice in the confessional. But a priest’s bad advice does not in any way invalidate the absolution that he then gives. The Sacraments are administered “ex opera operato,” from the very essence of what they are—not from the abilities or spiritual state of the minister.

Further, simply because some priests aren’t consistent in conveying what the Church teaches doesn’t mean that the Church is inconsistent in its teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is quite explicit about sin and what constitutes it.

On the other hand, while certain actions are objectively sinful, in a particular
instance the person’s ignorance or the presence of a number of other factors could render it not a sin. Also some people tend to be a bit scrupulous. One priest may pick up on this and another may not.

So the sacraments in the Church ARE valid. Now as to the traditionalists who are making all those decrees. What is THERE authority in all this? The answer is that they don’t have any authority and are speaking on purely on their own.

Finally, if a priest says your action is not a sin and you still think that it is, you are in no danger of losing your soul over this since your intention is to be repentant. God always loves a repentant sinner.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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