During a Mass, if more than one priest is available, he must stay in a confessional

My husband and I read this somewhere and I can’t find just where.
At Mass today, there were at least 10 people waiting to confess. The previous pastor allowed confessions and Mass to go on if more than one priest was available.This is a large parish and confessions are heard everyday before Mass. The new pastor has all priests leave the confessional and walk out on people right on the half hour.
There are always 2 or 3 priests available.
We read or heard SOMEWHERE that at least one priest should stay. Wherever we heard it, it was emphatic. It seems logical to me! Some people desperately need to confess and the lights go out.
Someone please help me as I was angered at the pastor today and promised I’d try to find this.
God Bless, Dustyangel

There isn’t an absolute requirement for an “extra” priest to hear confessions during Mass. I seem to recall a recent Vatican document encouraging such, but it’s not required. If a parish is offering a lot of confession times, it’s reasonable to give the priests a break from it. I don’t hear confessions the whole time masses are going on, I have sick visits to make and I have to man tht emergency phone, and lots of other things that could take up my time too.

It’s great to make confession more available, but it’s not something to get angry about if it’s not being offered around the clock. Consider yourself fortunate that your have such great access to it. If it really bothers you, it might be helpful, after you give him some time to settle into the job, to ask the new pastor about this, very respectfully. He might well have his reasons for altering the practice.



I agree with Father that you should ask your pastor why he has changed the practice.

Having said that, I have only seen one parish in the last few years that allowed confessions to continue during Mass, even when prior to the Mass there were two or even three priests hearing them. I always presumed, perhaps wrongly, that the pastors wanted people to focus on the Mass and not on some other activity like confession, so when Mass began, confession ended in most places.

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Hope this is what you are looking for

Thesaurus responsorum ex « Notitiae » - Notitiae Response Database

Indeed it is evident that it is licit to receive a confession while the solemnities of Mass are taking place howsoever often it is foreseen that the faithful seek that ministry. If concelebration is taking place, it is earnestly requested that some priests abstain from concelebration such that they can be available to the faithful who desire to approach the sacrament of Penance.

It is to be recalled to mind, however, that it is not licit to unite the sacrament of Penance with the Holy Mass such that a single liturgical celebration is taking place.



This reminds me of one of my pet peeves.

At the Cathedral we have confessions running through other devotions, particularly Adoration. Confession is usually still running when Adoration is finishing and the congregation sing and stand for the final rites. A few of the people in line for the confessional will stand and join in the final hymn, and then once a few do others join in. Sometimes I’m the only one left sitting.

We are not part of the Adoration service - we are there for confession and should be preparing ourselves for that. If you want to join the adoration service then get to another confession time, or get there earlier.

Maybe it depends on the layout of the church, and whether confession can continue in a distinct place from Mass?

Such is possible in a large traditional church (or Cathedral) with a centre aisle and side aisles, but would be less likely in a modern style church, I expect.

I’m not sure, since in a lot of the modern churches the confessions are actually in a room separate from the main worship space, but the confession time still seems to end when Mass begins.


At my parish confession is heard during the EF Mass, and there are a lot of people waiting to confess. It halts temporarily as Father assists with the celebrating priest with Communion, then returns to the confessional whilst the Mass celebrant continues the Mass. Some weeks confession is still going half an hour after Mass has finished.


Confession is offered daily including two sessions on Saturday.

I dont think joining in prayer with (and hopefully for) your fellow sinners is necessarily a bad way of getting o
yourself in the right frame of mind for confession.


OP. You can ask the pastor politely if one of the priests could continue hearing confessions after Mass if there are several still in line waiting to confess and if it happens regularly at the parish.

If there is a solemnity celebrated during Mass, then it is very common that all priests celebrate or concelebrate Mass. Especially if this is the only Mass offered at the parish.

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My intentions were to bring up what we both read or heard from a reliable source.
Our new pastor is extremely young, early 30’s, and has changed many things that people relied on.
Parishioners are not happy with many of the confessional changes.
People sit in rows of chairs, and each time a parishioner comes out, you move one chair. If you happen to be in the last chair and are even the last one to confess, all priests have been told to leave on that half hour. Some are kind enough to stay.
The new pastor has been there about 2 years. Why change what worked?
I need to call the Archdiocese and see about this because I also need to know if I am wrong. But, why would we have heard this and were shocked to see one priest must remain?
Nothing against the good pastor, by the way. He is a good, God loving man.

You need to start by talking to your pastor. In my own Diocese, whenever a call goes in to complain about a pastor, the response from the Bishop or the Vicar General is always “Did you talk to Father first?” And it won’t exactly endear you to Father if you started by going over his head. It’s just common courtesy that you talk to him first and is likely to be more productive.



Maybe every time we are denied confession, through God’s loving iconomy, we are reminded not to take Heaven or the Church or sin for granted?
I was also annoyed that confessions during the Dormition Fast happened at impossible hours for me, and then I cried over it and asked Virgin Mary if she could just let me get confessed during her fast, and somehow my schedule got light and I could leave work earlier and get confessed.
During the liturgy, I dunno about RCC but I find it odd to get confessed. Then again we are also required to do penance some times and there is no time for penance in 20 minutes (aprox) between confession and Communion.


I myself would prefer not to be missing part of the Mass for confession.
There is no requirement that one complete their penance between the absolution and the communion.


In EO there is, unless the priest states otherwise, so I thought it was the same in RCC.

Nope, no such rule in RCC. Once you are absolved, you can go receive Communion.

You are generally expected to complete your penance as soon as reasonably possible, but you don’t have to complete it before your next Communion.


People in parishes where there is a question of more than one priest should be grateful, in 2019. Most Catholics would want your dilemma.

Re the quote from a Vatican document, I wonder what context that was in, was it a response to a particular situation?

The local Jesuit parish even has signs on the wall, that no Confessions are heard during Mass.

I bet the tendency to restrict Confession during Mass reflects the post -Council attitude toward the TLM, that allegedly too many were daydreaming, saying the Rosary, private meditation or otherwise out of sync with “the community”. They wanted all private anything banned.


Why does it matter to you at all if people in the confession line join in an adoration hymn? How does this disturb you? Go on, prepare yourself for Confession in the manner that you find most appropriate and let them adore our Lord, which is always appropriate.

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