Confession of atheism


I’ve read somewhere that atheism can be only confessed before bishop. Is it true?


Possibly, but only if you have incurred an excommunication. This is pretty hard to do.

Heresy, Schism, and Apostasy

For run-of-the-mill cases of people who strayed from Catholicism to be atheist for a while and then came back, no. Just go to the nearest priest and confess. He will always know how to proceed and will refer you if need be.


that is not true.


It is possible, if one has incurred excommunication and the lifting of that penalty has not been delegated by the ordinary. In practice, the ordinary frequently does delegate it so it is not usually true.


thank-you I understand what you are saying but I would wager that Op is just talking about confessing unbelief in God and didn’t indicate that there was any ex-communication involved. I would image if there was an excommunication incurred that that person would have to bo to the bishop and have that lifting. I think only bishops can give an excommunication. Again thank-you for your response.


I asked a seminarian (now a priest) about reserved sins (i.e. sins that can only be forgiven by the bishop). He explained to me that in such a case, usually the priest will give a conditional absolution and then write a letter to the bishop saying, “So-and-so confessed x reserved sin”, and the bishop will write back and say, “I forgive that sin”.


If a person incurs an automatic excommunication for atheism he can only be absolved by the ordinary or someone delegated by him.

A person incurs automatic excommunication for atheism if he expresses his view to another and if he does not fall under any of the exculpating or mitigating factors in Canons 1323-1324.

In most dioceses the ordinary delegates the faculty to all confessors. Even if he does not, the confessor can obtain singular permission from the ordinary, omitting the name of the penitent. If the delay caused by this is very burdensome, the confessor can grant absolution in the mean time, imposing under pain of reincidence, the duty to return after permission has been obtained or to make independent recourse.


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