For those with addictions . . . yes, receive Holy Communion


CAF members,

Good news!

For those who are plagued with an addiction to something mortally sinful, below is a link that should give you hope. You may not be as bad off as you think you are . . .

Father Angel addresses whether someone who is trying to overcome an addiction has the “complete and deliberate consent” necessary to be guilty of a mortal sin. In a nutshell, my understanding from what Father Angel says is that mortal sin cannot be present for someone who sincerely desires to overcome an addiction through prayer/fasting, even if it is an addiction to something gravely sinful. He says, “The pious, heartfelt, and religious affectation/desire to please God is not compatible with the intentionality involved in mortal sin.”

I would go on further to say that for one struggling with such an addiction . . . any doubt as to whether one has completely consented to the thought or act is a certain sign that one has not given his “complete and deliberate consent.” In addition, like Father Angel says, mortal sin involves someone who does not care about offending God. So, supposing one falls into temptation and dwells on a thought or performs an act which would otherwise be gravely sinful, one’s upset, distress, or disappointment after the fact is a sure sign that one does care about offending God. It matters not that the thought or act was enticing and/or enjoyable during the experience . . .

The remedy to overcome this struggle is frequent confession, Holy Communion, and acts of charity. Note that because one in these circumstances is not guilty of a mortal sin, that person should receive the Eucharist, even BEFORE he has had a chance to go to confession.

This makes sense . . . the Eucharist is the healing remedy. So, in order to be healed, one must receive the Eucharist. And, the more frequently one falls, the more frequently one should receive.

Our God is more merciful than He is just and He is on our side. Do not let doubts presented by the enemy of our souls keep you away from the One who heals.

May God bless you all.



I stand corrected on one point . . . I just found the following reference in the code of canon law concerning the disposition that one must have in order to receive the Eucharist:

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible. [This is a truly exceptional permission that needs to be properly understood. It requires moral or physical impossibility to go to Confession and the necessity to receive Communion - such as a priest who MUST celebrate Mass.]

So, I suppose the “Good News” is applicable to the state of one’s soul and NOT whether one should receive Holy Communion absolutely. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.



CAF members . . . .

Here is more information regarding whether one can receive the Eucharist before confession when one is conscious of a grave sin. The link to the full content of this commentary is below. This quote is from the section discussing the mitigating factors on the sinfulness of masturbation, a grave sin. Here it is (the bolded part is my emphasis).

  • . . . When all of these factors are taken into account, one can see that often the culpability or gravity of the act is much reduced. In such cases the action remains a moral matter for confession as a venial sin, **but one need not refrain from receiving other sacraments such as the Eucharist without benefits of sacramental confession, as long as the matter has been verified by a priest regarding the extent of your moral culpability.*That is, following an act of masturbation, one may receive the Eucharist without going to confession, first when one lacks emotional maturity, (early adolescence), when one is striving to overcome a habit but without complete success, when one is under extreme stress or anxiety, or other psychological or social factors, among other situations, lessens moral responsibility.

So, it sounds like one with an addiction to something gravely sinful should ask his confessor if it is okay to receive the Eucharist before confession . . . .


I’m not quite sure what to think about this. I don’t have any quotes from Church documents to back up what I’m saying or anything, but I just have a couple thoughts. Maybe this is because I might not have ever really been addicted, but for a time I did struggle a good deal with masturbation and occasionally still fall, and maybe this is just me, but I’m pretty sure that for me it was a mortal sin basically every time. However, according to this view, of Father Angel’s, it wouldn’t have been a mortal sin most of the time simply because after I did it I was not happy that I had done it. Yet I wouldn’t have called myself addicted. Is he only saying this feeling applies to those who have a true addiction?

So it might be different for those truly addicted, but it seems to me that people may understand this to mean that they can receive the Eucharist when in fact their soul is in a state of mortal sin. Then again, that reference in your third post does mention that a priest must approve one’s reception of Holy Communion in these cases, so perhaps it is okay.

I don’t know, on one hand, I realize that there are people out there who have certain addictions and are likely not committing mortal sin, but on the other hand, I think there are also a lot of people who ARE committing mortal sin and might misconstrue information like this as encouragement to receive communion anyway. Also, regarding addictions, I think it depends on how one came to be addicted, too - if they purposely began doing whatever addicting action (that is, knew it was wrong, and knew it was addicting) and continued it and became addicted, then I think there may be a possibility that their addiction could be considered mortally sinful. But I suppose I may be wrong about that. If, however, they were exposed to an addicting action unwillingly and then became addicted, then I would say they are certainly not fully culpable for their addiction (and maybe not culpable at all, depending on the circumstances).

I guess the whole reason I’m “disagreeing” at all is because even though I may have had a mild addiction, ever since I found out masturbation was grave matter, I have refrained from Communion until going to Confession, because I mean, 1) better to refrain than the possibility of receiving unworthily, and 2) maybe this would be a trust issue on my part, but the priest may make an incorrect judgment on my worthiness to receive anyway, whether due to not knowing the complete story or whatever, I don’t know.

So, sorry for rambling on like this. I suppose my personal conclusion is that for a person who is addicted and wants to know his moral culpability in order to know whether or not to receive Communion, it would still be best to go to a priest and follow his instructions. I know that in my case, however, I would never receive Communion after committing the particular sin of masturbation. I concede, however, that it could be different in with other possible addictions and other circumstances.


As a mother and grandmother, I am aware that babies and children get into the habit of enjoying the pleasure of touching themselves on occasion. Some seem to like it when going to sleep, or maybe in other settings…

It can become a habit in young childhood. If it does, you can bet everyone will notice it, but it is hard to correct something like that. My goodness, if that doesn’t start an addiction, nothing will.


Charles, thank you for your reply. You bring up several good points that should be addressed. I do not have definitive answers but I do have a few thoughts. The first is your question as to whether Father Angel is only directing his comments to those with addictions. In the link, he was specifically asked about addictions. So, I suppose he limited his answer to that specific question. Yet, I would think that this mitigation of culpability could also apply to other sins . . . not certain which ones. However, one could easily apply this to sinful thoughts involving, e.g., lust. It seems that the gravity of a lustful thought is very much dependent on one’s “complete and deliberate consent” and it is often very difficult to determine whether one has given his full consent. So, for those who are pious, when in doubt, receive Holy Communion.

I agree with you that there are many who are committing mortal sins by engaging in masturbation. Based on what Father Angel says . . . I would expect that these persons do not care about offending God and they are unlikely ones who spend hours studying threads on the Moral Theology forum of CAF. The fact that someone is trying to determine the morality of his actions is a good indicator that he does care about offending God.

I agree that the culpability of addiction is dependent on how the addiction evolved. So, for one who knew more about its evil beforehand and chose to engage in it anyway is more culpable than one who accidentally fell into an addiction from his circumstances. But, even for the former . . . the person could still come to his senses and try to overcome the addiction in a sincere way. Those who have addictions often begin the day with, “today I will overcome this addiction,” but by evening falls into it again. It seems that in this case the person is sinning through weakness and not through deliberate intent. Thus, this person is not guilty of mortal sin.

I agree that one’s confessor is helpful in determining the culpability of the penitent. I would go further to say that if a penitent relies on the advice of his confessor even if the advice is wrong, the penitent is acquitted before God by relying on this wrong advice. This assumes, of course, the penitent isn’t purposely shopping around to find a confessor who he knows will affirm him in his sins. But how often does this happen anyway?

Lastly, I would say that if one’s confessor tells him to receive Holy Communion before confessing, he should follow his confessor’s advice. It is a great act of humility to obey one’s confessor even when it doesn’t feel right. The truth is that no one is worthy of receiving the Eucharist. Yet, God desires that all Catholics in the state of grace do and to receive as often as possible. The Eucharistic is the remedy to all ills and can provide the strength to overcome any addiction. So, my hope is that all confessors would risk erring on the side of encouraging their penitents to receive the Eucharist without prior confession.



Thank you. I have a nine year old son and have noticed him having a fascination with his body parts. I suppose this is very common.


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