Is Confession efficacious if one no longer believes in Catholicism?

Having serious doubts about catholicism but fear of hell is keeping me close to the church. I was wondering, does confession still have merit if you no longer have faith in things like the Incarnation etc? Or is assent of one’s will to the church required for the sacrament to have merit?

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So, you believe in confession, but you don’t believe other things the church teaches?
Instead of worrying about whether your confession “works,” I would suggest you look more deeply into the things you say you do not believe and see if you can understand them better. Once you understand, you may accept them.


Better to have my bases covered, I think

It’s not a matter of understanding, but of blindly accepting what can’t be understood

Have you discussed this with your confessor? That will provide your best answer.

Be advised: your penance may involve enrolling in RCIA to make sure you’ve been properly catechized.

I’ve already been through RCIA and confirmation

I once went through a similar period in life, including doubt in the Incarnation. My confessor pointed out that the mere fact that I came to Confession was evidence that I still had a glimmer of faith, and he strongly encouraged me to keep coming back. Knowing my spiritual struggles and doubts never prevented him from giving me absolution. If you are going to confession for the right reason and you confess your sins with contrition, confession is efficacious.

I will pray for you in your struggles. Definitely bring this up in confession. My confessors over the years have been of great help and guiding me through these periods.


If this happened more than 10 or 15 years ago, given the state of catechesis at the time, retaking RCIA might not be a bad idea.


Having doubts about the Faith doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of Catechesis. For some, it is a lifelong struggle and part of the journey.

I agree that taking this to confession is the best first step. In my own struggles in this area, I have been given advice that ranges from “Read Thomas Aquinas. You can approach this problem through your mind,” to “You know enough. Stop trying to solve this problem with your mind. Put yourself in front of a tabernacle every day.” Such disparate approaches to the same problem! (And both can be right!)

What I did get from both confessors is that this is an extremely common, almost mundane, problem to have and that the solution is perseverance. So keep going to Mass, keep going to Confession. Keep receiving the sacraments.


And I would add always add to your prayers that awesome request for help

Mark 9:22 But Jesus said to him, “If you are able to believe: all things are possible to one who believes.” 9:23 And immediately the father of the boy, crying out with tears, said: “I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.”



Try to schedule a confession separately from normal confession time and discuss this with your pastor or another good and faithful priest (if you have a regular confessor you should probably choose him), and talk about all this with him.

The above reccomendations also make sense!

Thanks for rhe advice, but I really just need to know if sacraments are efficacious with no faith. Theres no point in me going to confession if its not.

Could you elaborate on “no faith”? I’m guessing that you do believe in God and the afterlife, since you said in your OP that you have fear of hell. Do you believe that God created everything? Do you believe that God loves, and loves you? Do you believe that God provides for you or helps you?

Do you really want a God you can fully understand? Serious question. If you could fully understand God, wouldn’t that make him no bigger than you? Do you really want a God as small as you?

If I could fully understand God I’d be an atheist. If I can figure out everything about God, in light of my good but still limited intellect, then He isn’t God, he’s WAY too small. The only God I’m settling for is a God so big that even for all of eternity I still won’t have him fully figured out.


You have faith in confession, if not it wouldnt be important to you that its valid.

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Again, its more of a covering my bases type deal.

So are you saying you don’t really believe in confession either?

What exactly do you mean about covering your bases?


I see from your other posts that you are experiencing a crisis of faith. A good talk with Father - even via phone, might hep. Time pondering Christ in the Holy Eucharist is universally time well spent.

The Catholic faith is a belief system, yes. It has much philosophy in it also. It also has history, poetry, science, devotion, a veritable banquet of food for thought.

Revelation must be added to reason; to faith as well, or one may be lead to despair. Or worse.


How can you believe in confession as a sacrament if you do not believe in Catholicism? How can you believe that a priest has the power to forgive sins if you do not believe that he receives this power through the sacrament of ordination? Would you also pray to Zeus just to cover all the bases?

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We are saved not by rituals, going through the motions. We are saved by love – God’s love and ours.

Confession is not like turning the crank on a machine to print a ticket to heaven. It is an opportunity to repent and restore a right relationship with God.

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