Must I confess every week?


#1

I’m going to a boarding school in North Carolina right now. It’s a loosely-based Christian school that doesn’t offer confession. If I don’t confess to a priest every week, will I go to hell? And, when I do confess, does it have to be a Catholic priest or could it be an Anglican priest? Thanks for all your help!


#2

There is no requirement for Catholics to confess once a week. Some do, as a means of growing in sanctity, but it is in no way required. Indeed, for some people who suffer from scruples, weekly confession may be too much. Such people would be better advised to consult with their confessor or spiritual director for a schedule that suits best their individual spiritual needs.

While regular confession is strongly recommended by the Church (CCC 1458, 1811), the only requirement for how often one must confess is that mortal sins (not venial) must be confessed at least once a year:

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness (CCC 2042).

Because Anglican priests do not have valid holy orders (cf. Apostolicae Curae, Leo XIII, 1896), a Catholic cannot go to an Anglican priest for confession. Ordinarily speaking, Catholics should go to Catholic priests for confession. Only in extraordinary circumstances should a Catholic approach a validly ordained non-Catholic priest (e.g., Eastern Orthodox priest) for confession:

Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful * for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid
(canon 844 §2, Code of Canon Law*).

In short, if you are currently unable to go to confession on a regular basis while at school and wish to do so, I recommend asking your parents to call a meeting with school officials so that together you can work out satisfactory means for you to receive access to the sacrament of confession from a Catholic priest during the school year.


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