Have my sins been forgiven?

I just went to confession today. After I told the priest all my sins, and after the priest gave me his advice, all he said was “Now I absolve you from all your sins”. He didn’t ask me to say the act of contrition, nor did he call the name of Jesus to have my sins forgiven. Have my sins been forgiven? After laboriously pouring out all my sins to the priest, I hope I didn’t do all of this for nothing!

was it a sacramental abuse he didn’t make u recite the act of contrition? I believe so
but if you have been absolved and you did your penance I think you have been forgiven.
if you performed your penance it shows contrition and intention to amend your sins

Yes. The priest used the essential words “I absolve you”. There is no doubt about the validity. Are those the only words he used? There is a full absolution prayer that is supposed to be used and it was illicit if he omitted it. I would recommend that you seek another priest who is not willing to play around with the words, but you have nothing to worry about this particular incident.

Yes, “I absolve you from all your sins” were the only words he used. Nothing more. It was not part of any prayer he said.

See the response below:

Priest Doesn’t Ask For Act Of Contrition


If we were speaking prior to 1973, I would agree. That was the typical point of view, especially after the Council of Trent. However, I would note that the 1973 Rite of Penance (cf. #19) says “the essential words are: I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Based on that, I’d say the OP’s absolution was doubtful at best.

Are you aware of respected/published authors who still say (post 1973) that the only essential words are “I absolve you”?


Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

A reader from Singapore asked what the minimal formula for absolution was. St. Thomas Aquinas and the majority of classical theology manuals held that the nucleus of the formula was the expression “I absolve you.” A few also sustained that the words “from your sins” were also necessary. All agreed that the Trinitarian invocation and the other prayers were not required for validity but were necessary for the sacrament’s licit celebration in non-emergency situations.

“Ego te absolvo” as the sacramental form of Penance was fixed by infallible decree at the Council of Trent. The 1973 Rite of Penance may be correct that all those words are “essential,” but it must therefore be using “essential” in some sense other than sacramental form.

It is NOT an abuse if the priest does not ask for the act of contrition to be said.
Absolution is NOT conditional upon the penance being done.

Elizium23: thanks for the link. Fr. McNamara says any formula that has once been approved is always valid. I don’t think I ever considered that possibility before but maybe he’s right. On the other hand, in the book “Liturgy and Law” (2006) the author Huels says the priest “must say” the shorter formula for a valid absolution (pp. 200-201).

sw85: I’m not sure what other meaning “essential” can have and given the way the revised Rite says that abbreviated formula (“I absolve…Holy Spirit.”) has to be used even in “immanent danger of death” (#21) is instructive as to what the Rite expects. I don’t think we can say that the supreme authority in the Church is unable to alter Sacramental forms, even if a previous Council has made a determination…


I have not followed the thread so I will simply comment on the later question of “I absolve you” being essential for validity or not. And the note about regarding what the Rite says.

I agree with what the good Father there said is the case that “I absolve you” has been taken to be “valid”. The Theologian Fr. John Hardon too notes the same.

“Essential” l can be said to mean there in the Rite book : as in “essential for licit form” --thus the Rite is not dealing with what is needed absolutely for validity there but what is needed for licit form of absolution (which of course will also be valid). “What the* Rite* is to be”. Thus when say there is need (such as due to time…the person dying etc) the form “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is the short form that can be used licitly (and of course validly). But that does not mean there can not be “valid forms” that are not exactly that in the west --which are still valid.

Similar questions can rise about Baptism – where the Rite may say the “essential form” is …referring to the licit form in necessity.

But the Church judges various “alterations” to be valid or not valid according to the criteria for a valid baptism (as one can see in the various judgments about such and other sources).

Bottom line – Sacraments are to be celebrated as the Church describes --even the “short forms” --but variances from such do not necessarily “invalidate” them. Though they may such as “I baptize you in Name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier” is invalid.

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