Curious Scenario

Lets say we have a guy in a state of mortal sin heading to confession. On his way, a jihadist captures him, puts a gun to his head, and says renounce your faith or die.

Here’s the part that I find tricky in this scenario: If he chooses to not renounce his faith, he would be a martyr; However, he was in a state of mortal sin when he died.

What happens here? Does martyrdom forgive all sins in a similar way to baptism? :confused:

I would profess my faith and take my chances… Who knows, maybe the guy isn’t in mortal sin. Maybe he only thinks he is in mortal sin. Maybe the jihadist’ knife is too dull to do it’s job. Maybe the jihadist’s gun misfires. Maybe the jihadist is so amazed at your conviction to your faith that he is moved to remorse for his attempt on your life and he begs YOU for forgiveness for wanting to kill you… You can say, "well come with me, we are going to the right place for the both of us.

Profess your faith always, especially in a situation like that. Common sense says that would trump everything else.

I believe so.

Clause 367 of the universal code of martyrs applies. Additionally, I would say refusing the jihadis request would constitute a perfect act of contrition. OK, the first part I made up, I just wanted to quote something and sound officious :smiley:

Sticking with his faith in such a situation would be just as good for him if he had made it to confession, faith is what counts in the end.

But if he refused to answer or denied his faith, just to save his own life, he would be damned and confession would not matter at that point…

If Im not mistaken, something like this happened in that SC shooting, where that young man went into a black church, the witnesses said he asked them if they had faith in God or believed in God, or something along those lines, and I believe a few of them refused to answer…(and they were IN A CHURCH???) SCARY!

It might not be that tricky, perhaps.

Somebody on his way to confession is probably in a state of *repentance for the mortal sin. * already.

I think that is different than being in a state of *UN-repented of mortal sin. *.

I wouldn’t worry at all in the first case because God already knows his heart and that he is sorry and he is trying to get a sacramental confession

I would very much worry about the 2nd one, though. To die in a state of unrepented of mortal sin. :frowning:

Just my thoughts.

God can see our souls; the sacraments are for our sakes, not His.

If a person can have implicit or explicit desire for baptism and receive baptism of desire at the point of death, then surely a truly contrite person on the way to Confession can receive God’s absolution at death, no?

Martyrdom is a grace, and if you have that grace, ISTM that it would more than overcome the lack of sacramental absolution.

One should also consider that you could do what the attacker wanted and **still be killed; **in which case you’d have died denying the faith, **on top of **whatever you were about to confess in the first place!


Hopefully our would be confessor is also a martial arts expert. If so, he could drop some kung fu action on the jihadist and subdue him until the authorites arrive and cart him up to face justice. Then, he can dutifully continue on to church where he confesses and receives absolution.

A win win scenario if ever there was one.

From what I’ve read, intentions matter. If you’re on your way to confession, and you’re killed on the way, God knows you planned to confess and get right with Him and that is taken into account. I believe God’s justice would ensure that you still made it into purgatory, and indeed if you became a Martyr, perhaps bypass purgatory altogether.

If someone has a gun to your head…why don’t people simply “renounce” their faith verbally–just in words, without meaning it–to stay alive?
God would know they don’t mean it and so would all the others in their faith.
And then they can stay alive and take care of their families and continue supporting and spreading their faith.
They can do much more goodness alive, loving people and making the world a better place, than if they are a dead “martyr”.
I think that’s the smartest choice to make.


Not really, because he still would have done something to avoid answering the question, not answering is the same thing as denying imo.

I dont think confession can absolve one from denying their faith in a life and death situation just to save their own earthly life.

IYO but not, however, IMNAAHO.

We are not **obligated **to be martyred if the situation can be avoided without verbally denying the faith. Subduing the would-be attacker is valid self-defense.

FWIW, the “confessor” is the priest; the sinner seeking absolution is the “penitent.”


I see your point, but while self defense to preserve ones life is justified, Im not sure it would be in a situation where you are asked to defend your faith or deny it…I guess it would depend on the reason why you didnt want to answer…was it ONLY to save your own life or was it because you had some doubt about your level of faith and the willingness to die for it.

I truly hope Im never in this situation!

  • 1 on your last part.

I still hold that Church teaching on self-defense does not contain caveats for potential martyrdom situations. Martyrdom is a grace, and we should not assume we have it, nor should we seek out situations of facing it.

Arguably, allowing yourself to be killed in a situation that did not require it would not be martyrdom at all.


I say any of the following, or any combination, is the best course of action.

  1. Profess your faith to this jihadist. Obviously it would best to pair this option with either of the 2 below.
  2. Go all kung fu on him and put the fear of the Almighty in him.
  3. Introduce him to your 2 friends, Mr. Smith and Mr Wesson.

I know exactly which one I would choose.

I would suggest you ask your priest this question.

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