Can non-Catholics be absolved through Sacramental Confession?


Recently I was reading books by and about Charlotte Bronte, the famous 19th century British novelist who wrote Jane Eyre and Villete, among other classics.

In one of her books it talks about a Protestant character going into a confession booth, but who ultimately tells the priest, before confessing, that she is not Catholic, but evangelical; and so the priest tells her that he cannot give her the sacrament, as she is not formally part of the Church. In Charlotte Bronte’s own lifetime, Charlotte, out of curiosity it would seem, went to a confession booth, but ultimately did not confess before the priest since she didn’t know the formula to confession.

Anyhow, my question is: say an evangelical, Mormon, etc. does infiltrate the confession box undetected as a non-Catholic. If the person goes through confession, does that person, after confessing, walk away from the church free from the mortal sin that he or she walked in with?


Dear M,

Do you really think that a person can go to confession to a priest with the intention of deceiving him and still reap the benefits of the sacrament? I think not. He or she may fool the priest, but not God. If one wants to benefit from being a Catholic, then one must BE a Catholic—plain and simple. The Catholic Church welcomes converts!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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