I have a question related somewhat to the recent scandals


Since the priests involved in the scandals were in a state sin and assuming they had not been absolved of these sins, would their Eucharist, marriages, sacraments, etc, be invalid?

I am not Christian so please forgive my ignorance about all of this. I am just curious and if this completely inappropriate, just delete. Thank you.


No, the sacraments that they administer are valid. They accumulate mortal sin by administering the sacraments while they are in a state of mortal sin, but the sacraments are valid.



No, the sacraments they administered or witnessed are not invalid. They don’t depend on the holiness of the priest.

And it’s a perfectly reasonable question, no worries.


Thank you! Could you explain what you mean by “accumulate mortal sin…”?


So the priest can still change the Eucharist to the Body and Blood even though he is in a state of mortal sin?

And thanks for allowing me to ask these questions!


Yes. Unless a validly ordained priest has not had his faculties (powers) to confect (bring into existence) the sacraments, those sacraments are valid. Yes, he can celebrate the Eucharist.

His accumulating mortal sin means every time he administers those sacraments he “accumulates” a mortal sin. He must seek reconciliation to absolve himself of those sins. Given the current state of affairs, any priest committing sins of abuse of minors will be removed from ministry and barred from administering to others.


priests can & do sin; like the rest of us

but the sacraments these priests administer are 100% valid

priests in a state of mortal sin need to go to confession & “sin no more”

the priests that wind up in prison (where many of them belong) are paying their debt to society

but can still administer sacraments

unless the bishop says otherwise


One of the fundamental characteristics of God is that He is just. Were the sinfulness of the priest to render a sacrament invalid, an innocent and unaware person would be negatively impacted in the process; that’s not justice. Therefore, God permits even a sinful priest to administer valid sacraments, but the priest himself compounds his own sinful state by doing so (performing priestly duty in a state of sin) unless there’s some grave necessity (e.g., he’s the only priest of a remote rural parish and can’t avail himself of confession before he needs to offer Sunday Mass or something).


The Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about this subject in paragraphs 1127-1128

1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. the Father always hears the prayer of his Son’s Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.” From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them. (source)

Your question was also raised in the early Church. See Wikipedia article on “Donatism.”


all their sacraments are valid


This is what actually lead to my question…in a round about way!

I want to thank you all very much for the answers. I have found this site to be very open to questions without getting overly defensive or indignant. Quite different from many evangelical sites. Maybe it was the questions I was asking? Again, thank you.


In the fourth century, a group of North African Christians decided that sinful priests had no ability to celebrate the Eucharist. To these Donatists, the validity of the sacraments depended on the holiness of a priest. But that gets it all backwards! Christ is the source of our spiritual life — not priests, who are only his ministers. The mainstream Catholic Church maintained that Christ always comes to his people, even if through flawed human beings — and even through the worst of sinners. We must remember this ancient Catholic conviction today.


It is certainly a good honest question.

Thankfully, the validity of the sacraments don’t depend on the holiness of the ministers. Otherwise, we’d be in a constant state of uncertainty. That wouldn’t be good.


All things considered, I wonder how many that were/are steeped in evil will keep the seal of confession.:pensive:

Thinking blackmail


They are acting in the person of Christ and as long as they are validly ordained and have full permission of the Church and follow correct form their Sacraments are valid. Now their personal souls are between them and God.,


My thought is a legitimate concern.


Ok, curious now? Has there ever been a case of a Priest blackmailing someone using confession for the blackmail? I suppose it could have happened and no one ever knew… a perfect blackmail so to speak? I have never heard of a case like this and I know (most? All?) Priests take confession very seriously. I’ve heard of cases where Priests would not break the seal of confession, risking jail or death!

Any cases known using confession blackmail?


A Priest could be a serial killer but could still validly absolve you and say Mass.


It is because by the laying on of hands by the Bishop at his Ordination (This comes directly from Jesus down the line to those today) he is acting in the person of Christ when administering the Sacraments and saying Mass. He is not Father whoever forgiving sins, saying Mass, administering the last rites or hearing Confessions. He is in the person of Christ at those moments and that’s why by virtue of his ordination he will always be a Priest. His duties may be removed because of laicization but in emergencies he can still give last rites and hear confessions.


And I am pretty sure that even if a priest is laicized, he can still confer the eucharist. It would be valid but illicit. Once a priest always a priest…

and think about it, if a priest were to do the horrific things in the reports, why wouldn’t they defy the bishop and even the pope and “do what they want” and celebrate any sacrament they would like to.

And the question about blackmailing and confession…really why wouldn’t they…it isn’t like they followed their other vows, what makes you think they would follow the seal of the confessional…Really, they are already going to Hell…

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