Is Confession efficacious if one no longer believes in Catholicism?

In his first post he wants to know if Confession is valid if one does not believe in the Incarnation.

Apparently we were discussing different topics with each other.

I’m confused about which vows the OP is breaking.

Baptismal vows.

Infants don’t take vows about anything.

Baptismal vows are repeated at Confirmation and at every Easter Mass.

OP doesn’t say he participated in those. Unless I missed it. Which is possible.

I’m confirmed

This has me thinking, how do you un-apostatize yourself? Would you have to go through a bishop or something?

Confession, in most cases. :slightly_smiling_face:

Start with The Progression of Faith (can be prayed privately) and Confession.

Don’t each of us break our baptismal promises every time we sin?

Good question. Do you reject Satan?

I think sin does not actually break the promise. We all know that sin is inevitable. This promise is made with the “to the best of your ability” unspoken, but understood. The same is not true for belief in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

My 2 cents:
If you’re having doubts, then avoiding the sacraments, including confession, is just going to make it worse.

Sacraments are medicinal to some extent, they are channels for God’s grace and as someone else said they’re not dependent on the personal faith of the recipient to “work”.

You’re suffering from a spiritual malady. Go to confession and get the spiritual medicine that will help you.


“Merit” and “efficacy” are two distinct notions. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can’t have ‘merit’, as such, since that’s an attribute that applies to a person, not a thing. (Even if you said that there was a ‘meritorious action’, what you’re really saying is that the merit redounds to the person performing the action, and not the action itself.)

I think your title is more accurate – you’re asking about the efficacy of the sacraments, with respect to the belief of the person approaching them.

A person who approaches the sacraments superstitiously, rather than out of belief in Jesus Christ (and therefore, in a belief of the sacraments He instituted), does so at peril. The Catechism reminds us that “to attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition” (CCC, 2111).

You say that “fear of hell” is your motivating factor. That speaks to “imperfect contrition”, which is sufficient for absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation. However, if you don’t believe in the Incarnation, it’s difficult to see how you believe that the sacrament of reconciliation absolves sins. So, it seems like a superstitious use of the sacrament.

Right – so, ‘superstition’: “I don’t think that I’ll break my mama’s back if I step on this crack, but just to cover my bases…”

I think that this is an important consideration. Even though we might be trying to convince ourselves that the Incarnation isn’t real, there’s still something deep within us that’s trying to say “and yet…?”. That voice is important to listen to.

He means “just in case it is right, I’ll perform the external observances for the sake of performing external observances, but without the interior disposition of belief.”

No. If you cease your repudiation of the Catholic faith, then all that is needed for a return to grace is the absolution found in the sacrament of reconciliation. Since you’re saying that you would have now returned to belief, you can receive the sacrament and be absolved by the priest and forgiven by God.

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This I understand. The passage someone posted, “Lord I believe help me with my unbelief”, shocking as it may sound, helped a lot.

Also helped me stop concentration on trusting the church but trusting God. How He uses the church to teach me and listen more to what God is saying, to bring me closer to Him through them…you know what I mean.

OPer. :slightly_smiling_face:

I ask because I believe even with doubt there is belief. If not than what are you doubting :wink:.


Never stop going to confession.
Even if everything else falls apart and you leave the Church and you’re not going to Mass or praying or believing, go to Confession anyway.
Until the priest tells you he can’t grant you absolution, it will be efficacious. Trust the priest.

Confession is known as a “Sacrament of the Dead” because it brings to life people who are laboring under spiritual death sentences. It is a sacrament of healing. If you stopped believing in medicine and surgery and doctors, would you not be brought to the hospital in danger of death? Would the hospital stop working on you from your lack of belief? No – you would have to adamantly refuse medical assistance before they would consent to stop work.

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That’s doesnt apply to the Sacrament of Confirmation?

I only ask because awhile back there was a thread about a person who was forced to do their Confirmation by their parents, even if the person didn’t believe it the Sacrament… and they were told the Sacarment was still valid because the priest wasn’t aware that the person was forced by the parents.

So why wouldnt the same thing apply here… if the priest doesnt know the status the the person’s faith, wouldn’t he still be able receive absolution for their confession. Especially if the person is sincere in their confessions?

Unless the person says I dont believe in any of this but…

Interesting question. Canon law talks about the licit celebration of Confirmation, but not about validity. In the catechism, though, we read:

(Emphasis mine.)

So, is the question whether the person intends to receive the sacrament? Or is it on whether he professes the faith?

In canon law’s section on the sacrament of reconciliation, it states:

So, if the person approaching the confessional is only doing so out of a desire for a physical ceremony, but doesn’t have a belief in God (or a desire to turn back to Him), it would seem that there is no ‘salvific remedy’ in merely going through the motions without the interior disposition of faith.

That’s assuming RCIA isn’t the problem. I went through RCIA and learned nothing I hadn’t already known from researching Catholicism as a protestant the year prior. Some RCIA programs are phenomenal, some are horrendous. Most are fair but still consistently lacking in many ways.

Generally, the intention to receive Confirmation is presumed by observing that the confirmand does the preparatory work and shows up for Mass. The Church just wants to ensure that nobody is coerced or forced into receiving the sacrament, that’s all. You can’t even confer baptism on a subject who does not consent!

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