MERGED: No Audible Words of Absolution in Confession


#1

Dear brothers and sisters,
This is my first post :).
I was in confession the other day, and raised a number of sins that occurred many years ago and which I never specifically mentioned out of shame. The priest was extremely sensitive; his first words to me were, “The Lord has forgiven you all your sins.” He spoke for about 3 minutes, and at times I could barely hear him, but whatever I could make out was very encouraging. He told me then that my penance was to say three Our Fathers and then an Act of Contrition of my choosing. I did so. However, then, as far as I could tell, he went silent. I didn’t hear him say the words of absolution. After about 30 seconds, I said, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and left the confessional. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, although I must admit this is the first time confessing to this particular priest.
Is it required for the priest to state audibly the words of absolution?
Thanks and God bless you,
David


#2

He doesn't have to but he should have if that makes sense. I would make sure so ask. Your unease should be put to rest otherwise you'll just keep feeling a bit off and we know God does not will you to be made uncertain after Confession. Remember, you're supposed to feel forgiven.


#3

The priest must state the words audibly. You don’t have to hear them but they must be said.


#4

[quote="daoud62, post:1, topic:318030"]
Dear brothers and sisters,
This is my first post :).
I was in confession the other day, and raised a number of sins that occurred many years ago and which I never specifically mentioned out of shame. The priest was extremely sensitive; his first words to me were, "The Lord has forgiven you all your sins." He spoke for about 3 minutes, and at times I could barely hear him, but whatever I could make out was very encouraging. He told me then that my penance was to say three Our Fathers and then an Act of Contrition of my choosing. I did so. However, then, as far as I could tell, he went silent. I didn't hear him say the words of absolution. After about 30 seconds, I said, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" and left the confessional. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, although I must admit this is the first time confessing to this particular priest.
Is it required for the priest to state audibly the words of absolution?
Thanks and God bless you,
David

[/quote]

Yes, but audibly in the sense that he must physically mouth the words and pass air over his vocal cords so that he is not merely saying the words mentally. It is not required that you hear them or even that he hears them himself if there is a lot of background noise. Many older priests were trained to pronounce the formula of absolution softly during the Act of Contrition to save time (this was "back when people actually loved Jesus", as my uncle says, when there were long lines for confession every week). It is still a valid absolution.


#5

[quote="daoud62, post:1, topic:318030"]
Dear brothers and sisters,
This is my first post :).
I was in confession the other day, and raised a number of sins that occurred many years ago and which I never specifically mentioned out of shame. The priest was extremely sensitive; his first words to me were, "The Lord has forgiven you all your sins." He spoke for about 3 minutes, and at times I could barely hear him, but whatever I could make out was very encouraging. He told me then that my penance was to say three Our Fathers and then an Act of Contrition of my choosing. I did so. However, then, as far as I could tell, he went silent. I didn't hear him say the words of absolution. After about 30 seconds, I said, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" and left the confessional. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, although I must admit this is the first time confessing to this particular priest.
Is it required for the priest to state audibly the words of absolution?
Thanks and God bless you,
David

[/quote]

Here's a tip for confessions. If you don't hear the priest say the prayer of absolution, ask if he said it. It could be that they accidentally forgot to say it!


#6

[quote="devoutchristian, post:3, topic:318030"]
The priest must state the words audibly. You don't have to hear them but they must be said.

[/quote]

Technically: I agree with you. That should be done.

Per David's Case: I don't want him to feel unforgiven ... especially after the priest told him he was. He was assured of forgiveness by a person with the power to do so in God's name.

If the case was that the priest did not do HIS part of the Sacrament completely (the specific formal prayer) -- which he might have done quietly it seems anyway -- it could have just been a mistake.

But even if it were deliberate ... Jesus Christ is the High Priest, knows the sinner's heart, and is not incapable of forgiving or retaining sins himself * and would not be rendered helpless to forgive the sinner due to a bad priests bad intent (worse case).

I don't like to suggest there are bad priests. But it can happen. If one such man should deliberately mutter so that no one can hear him NOT say the words of consecration ... does that doom all the believers assembled to mortal sin for wafer worship of the unconsecrated bread? Of course not. Jesus knows the heart.

  • Fulton Sheen emphasized that an insincere penitent that somehow obtained priestly forgiveness through a false confession (wasn't really sorry etc.) - doesn't get away with it.

"Can. 907 The precept of confessing sins is not satisfied by one who makes a sacrilegious confession or one that is intentionally null." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

God knows the heart. It's sort of similar to a priest pronouncing "I now declare you Man and Wife ..." but then years later, per examination by an annulment court - one partner was not sincere or lacked the ability to contract a sacramental marriage (i.e. there never WAS a sacramental marriage ... so no sacramental bond). Only the insincere party sinned in that case.


#7

I think others have answered that the words need not be heard, let alone fully heard, to constitute absolution. Personally, I like the absolution performed as a separate and fully audible activity. Last time I went (a few weeks ago), I loved it that the priest waited to hear my full Act of Contrition, waited for me to complete that, and then pronounced a fully audible absolution. Both make it very meaningful for me. However, I have had a priest or two give the absolution during the Act of Contrition, which was perhaps what was happening in your case.

Not to worry. :)


#8

Couldn't he have said it, in a low voice, while you were saying the Act of contrition? This is quite common, and is fine. Perhaps, since you did not expect that to happen, you did not hear him. But, if you know it can happen, you will hear the murmur of words, even if you do not hear the words clearly.


#9

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and helpful comments. As he was speaking so lowly anyway, it could be that he was murmuring them during my Act of Contrition. I tend to feel a surge of emotion when the priest recites the prayer of absolution in a loud voice (even if rushed), and I simply missed that this time. Then again, I could have been caught up in the confession itself. Thank you for setting my mind at ease. God bless you all!


#10

Went to confession today, priest says "make an act of contrition"...while I was still making the act of contrition he began saying the words of absolution I guess...

When I finished saying "Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in His name, my God, have mercy."

He was saying something quietly, then I heard him say "in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen"....Go in peace, you made a good confession.

I then said "Father I did not hear the words of absolution." He replied "Excuse me"...I said "Father I did not hear the words of absolution said, did you say them." He replied "Yes I said them" I said "Okay, thank you, was just worried."

Now, question remains, do you have to actually hear the words of absolution for it be valid, even though I confirmed that he did say them...he was just quietly saying it...

:shrug:


#11

It's valid. A lot of priests start the absolution while the penitent says the act of contrition, probably to save time. I like it when they wait to say the last part until I am done, so I can hear "Ego te absolvo..." / "I absolve you..." (especially since some priests, unfortunately, tamper with the rite) but I don't think they're required to.


#12

[quote="dnar, post:10, topic:318030"]
Went to confession today, priest says "make an act of contrition"...while I was still making the act of contrition he began saying the words of absolution I guess...

When I finished saying "Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in His name, my God, have mercy."

He was saying something quietly, then I heard him say "in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen"....Go in peace, you made a good confession.

I then said "Father I did not hear the words of absolution." He replied "Excuse me"...I said "Father I did not hear the words of absolution said, did you say them." He replied "Yes I said them" I said "Okay, thank you, was just worried."

Now, question remains, do you have to actually hear the words of absolution for it be valid, even though I confirmed that he did say them...he was just quietly saying it...

:shrug:

[/quote]

No you do not need to hear the words of absolution. In fact, in the older rite it was customary to absolve quietly while you were still saying the act of contrition, such that all you would hear was "Go in peace."


#13

I guess I am worrying and obsessing to much as usual. My spouse went before me and she said he said the correct words just quietly....which I am sure is the case with me...my act of contrition was just longer and it covered up most of his words. I am just reassuring myself since I asked him if he said the words and he said, yes I did...I did all I could have possibly done I believe...


#14

[quote="CaptFun, post:6, topic:318030"]
Technically: I agree with you. That should be done.

Per David's Case: I don't want him to feel unforgiven ... especially after the priest told him he was. He was assured of forgiveness by a person with the power to do so in God's name.

If the case was that the priest did not do HIS part of the Sacrament completely (the specific formal prayer) -- which he might have done quietly it seems anyway -- it could have just been a mistake.

But even if it were deliberate ... Jesus Christ is the High Priest, knows the sinner's heart, and is not incapable of forgiving or retaining sins himself * and would not be rendered helpless to forgive the sinner due to a bad priests bad intent (worse case).

I don't like to suggest there are bad priests. But it can happen. If one such man should deliberately mutter so that no one can hear him NOT say the words of consecration ... does that doom all the believers assembled to mortal sin for wafer worship of the unconsecrated bread? Of course not. Jesus knows the heart.

  • Fulton Sheen emphasized that an insincere penitent that somehow obtained priestly forgiveness through a false confession (wasn't really sorry etc.) - doesn't get away with it.

God knows the heart. It's sort of similar to a priest pronouncing "I now declare you Man and Wife ..." but then years later, per examination by an annulment court - one partner was not sincere or lacked the ability to contract a sacramental marriage (i.e. there never WAS a sacramental marriage ... so no sacramental bond). Only the insincere party sinned in that case.

[/quote]

I'm not saying that the OP could have sinned in this regard. I was saying that absolution can't occur unless the words of absolution are pronounced. In any case the OP has every reason to believe that it was valid, as such he may recieve the Eucharist. In the offchance that the confession was invalid, the sins would be forgiven at his next confession.


#15

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