Can non-Priests perform last rites under certain circumstances?

Hypothetically, let’s say two people are hiking in the forest and one just just starts dying (lame concept, I know) and has about five minutes of life left and there is no priest for miles. Under this circumstance, would a regular person of the Catholic faith be able to perform the last rites and absolve the dying individual of is/her sins?


No, they cannot be the minister for confession or anointing of the sick. However, if the other person is unbaptized, they can baptize the person if they’ve got water and the person is ready. If the other person is baptized, I suggest that the Catholic could encourage the other person to repent of their sins and ask God for the grace of perfect contrition. Repentance with perfect contrition will suffice jim dandy.

No, absolutely not.

If the person is baptized, all you can do is pray with him and try to help him make a good act of Perfect Contrition, and you must pray very heavily for his soul during the poor man’s final moments.

If he is not baptized, try to obtain his consent for baptism and baptize him with common water and the Trinitarian formula. If there is no water, have him make a profession of faith, express is desire for baptism, or call on the Name of Jesus as an expression of his desire for salvation, or something that construes baptism of desire (and no, spit, urine, mud, etc. won’t do).

urinate on the man and tell him it’s raining. metaphorically i mean. at least then he won’t worry about going to hell…

Here are a couple of things that can be kept in mind for when hypothetical situations like that become reality. You don’t even have to be hiking in the forest either. It sometimes happens in some of the larger long-term/palliative care centers (at least, around here), that a priest cannot be present when someone is dying.

If the person is Catholic and has prayed regularly somehow during their life, this one is a real jewel:

(from the Handbook of Indulgences, © 1991, Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y.)


In Articulo Mortis

At The Approach of Death**

Priests who administer the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, Holy Mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence.

In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition “provided they prayed regularly in some way.”

The Christian faithful can obtain the plenary indulgence mentioned here as death approaches ( in articulo mortis) even if they had already obtained another plenary indulgence that same day.

This grant number 28, is taken from the apostolic constitution* Indulgentiarum doctrina*, norm 18.

The **Divine Mercy Chaplet ** is an ectremely effective form of unconditional prayer for anyone who is dying. If possible, it is recommended to be said at the bedside of a dying person. Here are some quotes of our Blessed Lord to Saint Faustina as recorded in her Diary. I took some of them from this site.

“Tell them that no soul which has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul that has placed its trust in My goodness. Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Saviour” (Diary, 1541).

“When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated and his unfathomable mercy envelops the soul” (Diary, 811).

Earlier, Our Lord said to her, “At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same.” (Diary, 811).


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