Having a Friend Sit In on Confession

I have a friend whom I’ve been slowly working on to come back to the Faith. He’s very reluctant to go to confession despite my attempts at minimizing the embarrassment. Is it permissible to have him sit in on one of my own confessions, with my express permission given to the confessing priest, as to show him that there’s nothing to worry about? Or is he strictly forbidden from sitting in on my confession. He wouldn’t be an interpreter.

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I would clearly explain to him the obligations of the seal. I frankly don’t care what he knows about my sinful life, and I don’t expect him to blab about it anyway. We’re best friends and none of my confessed sins would be news to him since I tell him almost everything. I just want him to come home. If a “dry run” of confession does the trick then I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

I don’t know the actual rules, but my common sense says it is not appropriate to invite him to Confession and the effect might be opposite than that you expect And you are trying too hard on convincing your friend as if he was a kid. Pray for him and give him some space alone with God. God will give him the strength to do it on his own in his own terms. Confession is a Mystery of God. When God will beckon him to just come he will. God will also show him where to go, to which priest and all that.
Also you can pray to Virgin Mary that your friend finds a good confessor and leave your friend to God and the Church invisible care.


Some priests might be okay with that, I suppose, but others might not. A priest might feel you’re pressuring him to take part in a theatrical production, in which you play the role of a penitent and he is expected to play the role of a priest, under your direction.


No. Absolutely not. It violates the seal. Any priest who did this would be guilty.


Why do you think some priests would be ok with something strictly forbidden.

Look again. I wrote “might be”, not “would be”.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask your friend to speak to the priest outside the context of confession, so that the priest may help him overcome his fear? I think most priest would be very willing to help someone ill at ease with the sacrament. They could practice a “dry run” as it were. My understanding is that only an interpreter is admissible to the confessional, and (s)he too is bound to the seal. That is something that takes some preparation I would think.



Sending up the signal.


You’d have to ask your Priest. I wouldn’t think anybody unless as an interpreter could “sit in” on a person’s Confession.


Doesn’t sound right to me. Perhaps setting up an appointment with the priest to talk about confession is a better way to go.



I would just simply help your friend make arrangements to meet the priest privately and have him walk your friend through the process. That would be best because if he was made to feel at ease he could then make a real confession on the spot. He’s obviously not been to confession for a very long time and is “overdue” as it were. A private meeting with the priest sounds like the best way to resolve this.

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I’m not so sure it violates the seal. The seal is mine, as the penitent, for my protection and I can willfully break it if I choose. The confessor cannot; that’s never his option, nor can an interpreter in the room or a bystander outside who overhears. In this case, however, I’m willfully dispensing my rights with this friend, the same as if he waited outside, and I walked out and told him everything I had said.

It’s not entirely different from people who take their small children into the confessional with them. And for that reason and some of the others previously mentioned, I don’t recommend doing this with an adult friend — but not because it violates the seal.


OP. There are some teaching videos on Youtube if you search “preparing for confession Catholic Church” with mock confessions.

I can see your thinking and feeling this as a kindness, but really it wouldn’t work. It’s an act of humility as well as an internal sacrament of grace, like someone said the call needs to come from God and it will do in it’s own time. But it could be acceptable for him to sit with you in the church and see how you dont seem scared and watch you go and in and come out again without any fear or something life that. I mean that sort of tongue in cheek but he’d have to be reasonably discreet as other members of the parish would not like being watched in the confession line. What you could do, is arrange with your priest for him to meet the priest and discuss the faith and confession and once this is done it’s a lot less scary. Do remember that the priest has done first time confessions and putting people at ease before and he knows what to do and say for a new and nervous person, after all Jesus is speaking through him.

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It bonds a person to the seal. It isn’t like taking a small child in the confessional. It bonds the third party (one who knows little about Catholicism to the seal.) If a third party hears a confession they too are bound by the seal. That is heavy to put on someone. The argument can also be made that a true examination if conscience cannot be made and a good confession is less likely if your buddy is right next to you. Of course this could be a genius way to tell him you slept with his wife. And then that binds him to the seal. Genius I tell you.

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^ This I agree with. And yes, it might be an impediment to a full proper confession, but that’s on my shoulders and conscience as the penitent, as is fully explaining the seal and the impact/agreement my friend is about to be involved in, but still not a violation, per se, of the actual law, I wouldn’t think.

I think it’s a bad idea.
How about role-play a confession? Our CCD classes do (did?) this. A teacher (or other responsible person) would play the role of the priest and the student would ‘confess’ to generic, unspecific ‘sins’.

Thank you everyone for your replies. This was something that just popped into my head late a couple nights ago, and clearly I didn’t give it as much thought as I should’ve. I’m inclined to agree with the consensus here that this wouldn’t be appropriate.

Interestingly, my friend just told me he went to the first RCIA meeting last night all of his own volition. I had no idea this was even on his radar, nor did I even know he hasn’t yet been confirmed! I know the catechetical professionals there will be much better equipped to give him a more systematic treatment of the sacrament so I’ll just stick to praying for him and giving him my support from the sidelines.


I remember telling a priest he should bring his Yorkie along to keep him company between penitents.

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