Does my father's deathbed confession mean he is forgiven?

My father passed away last monday. He had suffered with cancer for the previous 3 years. He went through a lot of physical suffering up to the point of his death. My Dad was Catholic and raised me and my brother as Catholics but had fallen away from the church 25 years ago.

As I saw my Dad getting weaker and weaker and obviously dying, but not trying to reconcile with God, I called the local church and asked if the Priest could come and speak with him. The priest did come. My Dad confessed his sins and was given last rites before he died. On his deathbed my Dad told me that this made him so happy and he felt right with God. He urged me and my brother to be good Catholics after he was gone. On thursday he was buried in a Catholic ceremony.

I think that my Dad was a good man. He always helped those in need and I never heard him say a really bad thing about anyone, he was married to my Mom for 49 years and was a good husband and father. My question is, is he forgiven for turning away from the church for so many years? I am praying for his soul.

Dear Mark,

When a person received the anointing of the sick on their death bead and then dies shortly thereafter, all things being equal, that person goes straight to heaven. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick not only absolves all sin, it also removes all temporal punishment due to sin. So there is very good reason to believe that your dad is in heaven. Nevertheless, continue to pray for his soul just in case, unknown to us, all things were not equal.

Know that he HAS been forgiven. Happy Easter!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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