Mental Illness and Confession?

If someone with a mental illness is unable to confess due to that mental illness, how are their sins forgiven? Are their prayers enough if they can pray?
Thank you

I’m unsure why someone with a mental illness would be completely incapable of going to confession in some form, but if their free will is so impacted by the mental illness that they can’t freely choose things then their moral culpability is virtually zero. However, if they can at least ackowledge they have done something wrong and that they are sorry for doing it they can receive the sacramental absolution:

Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities

  1. Only those who have the use of reason are capable of committing serious sin. Nevertheless, even young children and persons with mental disabilities often are conscious of committing acts that are sinful to some degree and may experience a sense of guilt and sorrow. As long as the individual is capable of having a sense of contrition for having committed sin, even if he or she cannot describe the sin precisely in words, the person may receive sacramental absolution. Those with profound mental disabilities, who cannot experience even minimal contrition, may be invited to participate in penitential services with the rest of the community to the extent of their ability.
  1. In the case of individuals with poor communication skills, sorrow for sin is to be accepted even if this repentance is expressed through some gesture rather than verbally.

All persons who have perfect contrition for their sins are capable of having their sins forgiven even if they are unable to go to confession.

Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 765. What is perfect contrition?

A. Perfect contrition is that which fills us with sorrow and hatred for sin, because it offends God, who is infinitely good in Himself and worthy of all love.

Q. 766. When will perfect contrition obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance?

A. Perfect contrition will obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance when we cannot go to confession, but with the perfect contrition we must have the intention of going to confession as soon as possible, if we again have the opportunity.

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit