Can non-Catholics go to confession?


#1

While I know that non-Catholics (as well as Catholics who aren’t in a state of grace) aren’t allowed to take communion, can they receive reconciliation? For that matter, would it ever be possible for a non-Catholic to be in a state of grace (assuming they were allowed to go to confession in the first place)?


#2

Non Catholics could go and talk to the priest in the confessional, and perhaps receive a blessing, but wouldn’t receive absolution.

I am not sure about the state of grace question. I imagine it is possible, but difficult. I’ll defer to someone else with more knowledge than myself.


#3

My priest said anyone could go to confession, Catholic or not, but non-Catholics couldn’t be granted absolution. Of course, it’s nice to go and confess if you just have something weighing on your heart and you need to tell it!


#4

The answer is: it depends.

In general, no. In specific, there are exceptions. First of all, though, we would be talking about a baptized person, because it isn’t possible to receive any other sacrament if one is not baptized.

Can.* 842 §1. A person who has not received baptism cannot be admitted validly to the other sacraments.

Can.* 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and ⇒ can. 861, §2.

§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.

Through perfect contrition.


#5

Certainly it’s possible for a non-Catholic to receive reconciliation. In fact, this is standard practice before one is either received into the Church, or Confirmed at the Easter Vigil. The real question is whether you’re ready to repent of your mistaken beliefs.


#6

Wow, now that’s what I call research from someone who knows his stuff!

So basically, what you, and the Cannon Law, are saying is that a non-Catholic can only receive absolution under danger of imminent death?

Does this mean “if one desires to be absolved of and is truly repentant of those things which the Church considers to be sins*, but is not in full communion with the Church” will be absolved if he were to die?

Yes, but that would mean that a theoretical person desiring absolution today would be required to wait more than half a year. What if said theoretical person were to get run over by a bus?

Also, how does one be sure he is truly repentant? How does he know that he’s not just saying he is because he thinks it’s the right thing to do, but unconsciously doesn’t care – that he’s tricking himself because it eases his mind? Isn’t this really being selfish? And what if he thinks he may do those sins again, though wishes he does not? (Again, assuming we can work on a definition of being truly repentant and not doing so out of fear or because you simply “think it’s right”.)


*e.g. things that the Catholic Church considers sinful that Protestant churches may not, such as the use of artificial birth control


#7

A convert’s first confession need not be within the couple weeks before Easter. It can in fact be at the pastor’s discretion, for example, if he were to be convinced that a person-to-be-received understood the sacrament sufficiently to celebrate it.

Perfect contrition (what I suspect you mean by true repentance) is not necessary for the sacrament of Reconciliation. Whether we confess because we just “think it’s right”, or we fear hell, or even if we are just disgusted that we were so weak as to fall for that again, the priest absolves sins all the same.

To go a little more in-depth, if you are confessing because “it’s the right thing to do” then you are certainly on the right track. I don’t think that it’s proper to say that this person “unconsciously” doesn’t care. I think that the vast majority of us don’t care, at least in some small way. We all have our favourite sins that we cling to the hardest, and will be the most difficult to beat. And guess what? Most of those sins are really FUN! Well, at least fun as the world sees it. But that is what we are struggling for; to put God at the centre of our lives.

Many of us confess sins even though we “know” that we will commit them again. Unfortunately, that’s human nature. But that’s also why Reconciliation is a repeatable sacrament. We can continually beat ourselves with God’s grace, month after month, fortnight after fortnight (and if you’re really holy, week after week!), until we can finally plunge into the final Purgation before the bliss of Heaven!

So, in short, your definition of true repentance is not as wide as the Church teaches.
God bless


#8

YES,
we have confession in the Eastern Orthodox church my parents took us to.


#9

Let me see if I get this straight. If a man were to use a non-abortifacient form or birth control with his wife and goes to confession knowing he will do it again since he doesn’t want to have (more) kids, he will be absolved and in a state of grace until he does it again? The man doesn’t have to actually try and struggle with avoiding it the way an alcoholic trying to kick booze would?


#10

No, that’s not what I’m getting at. We do have to struggle against our sins. However, in at a certain level of self-knowledge, I can be fairly certain that I will fall again, even though I want to struggle against my sins.


#11

No, trying to “trick” God in abusing a sacrament for doing something which you are not actually contrite for (and have no amendment to change) is itself disordered. Such abuse of the sacrament, in itself, would be sinful.


#12

[quote="Spirithound, post:10, topic:291364"]
No, that's not what I'm getting at. We do have to struggle against our sins. However, in at a certain level of self-knowledge, I can be fairly certain that I will fall again, even though I want to struggle against my sins.

[/quote]

[quote="Actaeon, post:11, topic:291364"]
No, trying to "trick" God in abusing a sacrament for doing something which you are not actually contrite for (and have no amendment to change) is itself disordered. Such abuse of the sacrament, in itself, would be sinful.

[/quote]

Gotcha. So admitting you're weak and will likely fail, though you honestly try to avoid the same sin, is being realistic and is okay. e.g. A man who has a booze problem, confessing that he got drunk and blacked-out, though he realises he will likely do it again given his love of drink, though he honestly tries to "drink not so much", is not abusing the sacrament while the mentality that "I can do whatever I want since I only have to go to confession afterwards, even if I do it over and over again" is. Being legitimately sorry is not exclusive of admitting that you will likely falter again in the future.


#13

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:12, topic:291364"]
Gotcha. So admitting you're weak and will likely fail, though you honestly try to avoid the same sin, is being realistic and is okay. e.g. A man who has a booze problem, confessing that he got drunk and blacked-out, though he realises he will likely do it again given his love of drink, though he honestly tries to "drink not so much", is not abusing the sacrament while the mentality that "I can do whatever I want since I only have to go to confession afterwards, even if I do it over and over again" is. Being legitimately sorry is not exclusive of admitting that you will likely falter again in the future.

[/quote]

Correct :)

And a person who is struggling with sin can often find great assistance in attending the sacraments and in the assistance that comes from being in a state of grace... so a person who is struggling with sin (verses one who is totally accepting of it) SHOULD attend confession as often as needed (and go to communion afterwards as well!)


#14

Thanks!

Actually, I recently ended-up running into my parish priest, so I was able to ask him about this as well. He basically stated what was stated above, that I could talk to him for pastoral counselling and the like regarding sins, but that, as a non-Catholic, I could not be absolved through Reconciliation.


#15

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