How do I tell my priest he is wrong?

I got some advice from my pastor about recieving communion in the state of grave sin; he said that we obviously should not just recieve it but have an intention to go to confession afterward at the next avaible time. THis is similar to the idea of “Baptism of consent”.

I then asked a second opinion on Cahiolic Answers and the priest that gave the answer said that that was incorrect in that to be properly disposed to recieve the Eucharist, one must go to confession in the state of mortal sin no matter their intention if they intend to recieve the Eucahrist (this is with the acception of someone being sick or diving).

All that being said, should I tell my pastor this? I thought it could be viewed as an act of charity or mercy becasue we are all supposed to help each-other, but my mother thinks otherwise and is very angry at the idea of me telling our pastor this. What should I do?

So he did not mention that it is necessary to make an act of perfect contrition, in the case mentioned? Priests need to do this sometimes because thay have to celebrate the Mass. The faithful, not under such a situation of immediate need, should wait.

CIC Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

Well, your mother is correct that it is not appropriate for you to “correct” your priest when it comes to the administration of the sacraments. Are you a theologian? Are you a canonist?

Is it not that the priest is directing the application of canon 916?
Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states
1457 According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reiterates this
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. 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 (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

What is “baptism of consent”?

Frankly, this well illustrates the problem when people who have not the years of both education and formation that a priest does begins trying to second guess him or, much worse, treat the priest as though he has not the years of education and formation at all.

The priest, with cura animarium, is precisely the one best placed to decide that canon 916 is applicable…I have certainly directed its application many times over the past 30+ years – and no, I would not be amused by a lay parishioner telling me I either did not understand the canon or did not know how to apply it.

Fr Ruggero,
I can see how a priest might need to receive the Eucharist without having gone to Confession after committing a mortal sin, because otherwise Mass might not be celebrated at all.

But what about the laity? What sort of thing would constitute a grave reason for them to receive while in a state of mortal sin?

I would think a priest would be humble enough to discuss anything with a lay person and seek the correct answer. Pride on either side should be avoided but discussion is acceptable. If the man needs to go to confession when talking to Father, why can’t the priest hear his confession asap? God Bless, Memaw

Is it not possible that your pastor’s advice was directed to your personal situation and not to the general population of the Church?

When I returned to the Church after 15 some years of living like the prodigal son, I received some very pastoral advice regarding how to view my present grave sins in light of the sinful habits I’d developed over those years.

His advice was for ME, not for the people sitting around me in the pews. I’m sure he gave pastoral advice to them as well, but the specifics therein were none of my business.

No, don’t “correct” your pastor. Follow his direction or don’t. And do strive to grow in holiness and avoid sin – which of course is the solution for each of us. :o

Why not approach the priest asking for further guidance due to confusion between what he said snd what you read? Accusing anyone sets up a confrontational situation that is undesirable to learning the truth.

I read somewhere if a priest is wrong tell Jesus only and pray for the priest to realise his error.

For a great number of reasons.

The supreme legislator knew what he was doing, when he chose to include the provision in both the occidental code and the eastern code and its citation in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This sounds to me (a complete outsider to this matter) like reasonable advice: guidance rather than confrontation.

We are not with you and your Priest - so we do not know the circumstances. Are there occasions (grave reasons with other aspects needed) where one could make a perfect act of contrition and go to Holy Communion? Yes.

That of course is *not *just a “it is ok to do this anytime” situation -such is in relation to grave reasons etc (see below). Normally one must go first to Confession if one committed a mortal sin. We though do not know here all the circumstances.

Catholic Answers Staff Apologist - answers here:

Any mentioning of this to a Priest (or indeed of anyone else-but yes especially a Priest) would be done as Jesus gave us to do (see the Gospels)…and with respect, humility and charity. Difficult for anyone in a Forum far removed from you to advise here though on your question. Feel free also to call the Catholic Answers Apologist line for further assistance -they can advise you at to the question you asked here-a live person be best.

I respect clergy a great deal. They bless us with the faculties they possess and they have such a important job that none of us will ever know the depths of.

And I would pray for them if I thought they were in error…in fact, I pray for them anyway as we all should.

But coming from the Protestant side, I do not understand this sort of aura of invincibility around the clergy. They are human and they make mistakes regardless of their credentials, they don’t stop being human after they graduate…

I could talk to a protestant pastor privately about his decision on something and that is perfectly acceptable. And they seemed to have the humility to understand you are not rebuking them, just wanted to bring something to their attention and get their thoughts on the matter. Shouldn’t that be acceptable? Rather than just hoping God straightens them out?

In regards to the matter brought up by the OP, I have no idea what the answer is. But I think charitable, private meetings should be acceptable between clergy and laity. The laity may be wrong 99 times out of 100, but what about the 1 time he was right? And educated laity make better disciples for Christ. So this is a win win, imo…if done correctly.

Simple: you do not tell a priest he is wrong, whether teen or adult.
There is certainly much more to this story.
If you are a teen, enroll in your parish religious ed classes asap.
Read the catechism.
Confession is a sacrament. Not a gathering of opinions that one prefers.
Get a regular confessor and listen to him.


I didn’t say immediately, I said “as soon as possible”! God Bless, Memaw

Your entire quote was:

To which my answer remains exactly the same: for any number of reasons…

To be quite clear: there are any number of reasons for which a confessor may choose to defer the celebration of this sacrament to a point in the future, well beyond “as soon as possible.”

I’m inclined to think Gertabelle is right. You were talking tho a priest in person who could understand your particular situation and circumstances. Of course the answer he would give you was specific, not the genetic advice you might get on a message board…

It also seems a bit strange to me that you would ask him to hear your confession but at the same time not trust what he tells you. Why go to him for confession if you’re then going to question everything he says?


I agree with you and I have talked to priests a number of times over the years and was never met with a “Don’t tell me what to do attitude.” I believe we should be able to discuss our concerns with them and be treated respectfully. Seems the OP was advised he could go to Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin as long as he was willing to go to confession later. I do not think that is permissible except in very serious situations, which should have been explained to him at that time. The priest could have agreed to hear his confession as soon as possible, (asap) before going to Communion. In fact I talked to my Pastor just last week about something we disagreed on and he listen to me and thanked me for bringing it to his attention and even told at Mass why he changed his mind. He never mentioned my name but just said, “It has been brought to my attention”. He was respectful and would you believe I only have a High School education!!. God Bless, Memaw

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