Dying for the Faith


A few questions…

  1. If a priest is celebrating mass and at the moment of consecration sees that he is about to be shot, does he have to be shot, or can he set the Blessed Sacrament down and conceal himself?

  2. If a priest is about to be killed because he won’t reveal what someone said in confession, is he allowed to share it to spare his own life?

  3. If a priest is on an airplane, and it is going down, would it be his moral duty to save the others before himself?

  1. he “lays down his life.” In other words, he gets shot.
  2. No. He can’t break the seal of confession. Even if it means he dies because of it.
  3. Yes, his is to save others before himself.


These are all very improbable and unlikely situations. And to my opinion and knowledge have nothing to do with real experience. The example that comes to mind is that of Peter: I will die for you, Lord, just to renounce him 3 times afterwards. In theory they may sound right, in practice is another thing. Let those, whom are prepared for martyrdom, be prepared by the Holy Spirit, and not by volition of men. It is said is easy to be a christian, if you’re not thrown to the lions.
Do you have any concrete cases and examples for the questions you raised?!


1). I don’t know what he is allowed to do in that instance.

2). Priests have literally gone to the guillotine over the confessional seal. No, it isn’t optional.

3). How would he save himself or others in an air crash?


  1. He would have to lay down his life
  2. He can never break the seal of confession, so he can’t tell even on the edge of death
  3. Well, it’s a moral thing to do so… yes.


I. Oscar Romero reluctant prophet was silenced in 1980 when he was shot in the heart while saying Mass.
His words and his story continue to speak the Gospel to us today.

2.No it is not optional, the seal of Confession for the priest cannot be discussed under excommunication for himself.

  1. Not unless he has a private parachute


Modern air travel has rendered catastrophic self-sacrifice almost obsolete; however, in the times of steamships, priests have sacrificed themself to save others.

When a WW2 troopship went down in mid-Atlantic, the four chaplains remained on deck praying until the water covered their heads; allowing everybody else to abandon ship.

While that is not a canonical requirement, it certainly sets an example!



If a plane is going down he cannot physically save himself or others. The plane is still in the air!!
However, he could stand up and give a General Absolution.


One could save himself in that situation if he had a parachute.

Conceivably, he could give his life for another by handing them the parachute.



Lets be real! What planes have you been on that have parachutes under the seat instead of life vests?


This is all hypothetical!

No-one said the aircraft in question was a stratospheric jet (and even then, DB Cooper managed to parachute from one.)

Theoretically, someone could be travelling in a low-slow flying private plane and have a 'chute with him.



It seems pretty clear to me that the OP means a normal commercial plane.
It also seems pretty clear to me from all I have read that Cooper did not survive.

Unless the priest is a skydiver and someone else didn’t have a parachute its even a hypothetical stretch. However, hypothetically I can agree with you.

As in my earlier post the easier way for a priest to save a person/people would be to grant a General Absolution. If there are Catholics on board they would be saved after death.


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