Non Catholic Absolution of Mortal Sins?

I am a Catholic who is dating a non Catholic, she has decided to go through RCIA courses; however, we will not enroll until next year for it. We’ve talked Catechism many times, and she understands what is a mortal sin, what makes one, and what sins are included within. We have both committed mortal sins, but I can receive confession. How am I supposed to help her receive absolution? What does the Church teach in this instance? Does she have to wait until she is initiated?

Thanks for all the help!

Welcome to CAF.

Since you are in the Non-Catholic Religions section, do you want the view of non-Catholics as well as Catholics?

If she is Lutheran or Anglican, she should already know how to receive absolution.


She is a baptized Lutheran, but never received any type of teaching until we started dating about a year ago. She was non practicing before. Now she attends Mass as often as she is able.

If she was non-practicing, not confirmed, and therefore not catechized, I’d think she’d be better of just continuing on in RCIA. If she want’s, however, she could probably find a Lutheran pastor who could counsel her, and perhaps hear he confession and grant absolution.

Of course, Catholics will say that a Lutheran pastor’s absolution lacks validity, but the option remains out there.


If she is baptized validly and believes in the sacrament she can technically go to confession.

That said, almost everyone discourages it until the RCIA process. I guess this is to ensure you really truly get it, but I still don’t fully understand why the push to wait.

My priest advised me to make a list whenever I thought of a past sin to then write it down and pray for Gods forgiveness. It seems doing such a thing and then waiting for the process falls under the protection of “going to confession at first opportunity”.

If she is not baptized I would advise you to start RCIA, get her in the order of catechumens that is protected by baptism by desire.

Why do you think a non-Catholic can technically go to confession?

That was my understanding, that there is nothing canonically prohibiting it if you believe in the Sacrament.

Do you have other info on it?

If she is baptized she should/ could be able to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic Church. I mean, the Church sees every baptized person as a catholic who are not in full communion, but in a sort of 50 per cent communion or so.

But I know from my own experience that it varies from priest to priest and frin parish to parish where they stand on non Catholics confessions.
I’ll be initiated this Easter 2 weeks from now, yei!:slight_smile: and I was left out from confession until my general confession took place 5 days ago and it was hard to learn more and more about the severity of my past sins without any chance of going to confession.
But, please take my advise if your priest advice you to wait for confession just obey him and do as he says. Remember that God know that you’re prohibited from confession and your sins are forgiven when you pray for forgivness with the intention of going to confession as soon as possible.

Also if she is serious about becoming Catholic I’ll strongly discourage any confession with Lutheran pastors or any other non Catholic revours as it will be a huge charade.

So to sum up, my advice is to relax and stay put for now until your able to confess.

I wish you the best of luck in your faith journey and may God be with the both of you.

Yours in Jesus and Mary

  • MarianCatholic

This is a good prayer

Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Chosen Ones, and by the Bearers of Thy Trust, and by Him Whom Thou hast ordained to be the Seal of Thy Prophets and of Thy Messengers, to let Thy remembrance be my companion, and Thy love my aim, and Thy face my goal, and Thy name my lamp, and Thy wish my desire, and Thy pleasure my delight.

I am a sinner, O my Lord, and Thou art the Ever-Forgiving. As soon as I recognized Thee, I hastened to attain the exalted court of Thy loving-kindness. Forgive me, O my Lord, my sins which have hindered me from walking in the ways of Thy good-pleasure, and from attaining the shores of the ocean of Thy oneness.

There is no one, O my Lord, who can deal bountifully with me to whom I can turn my face, and none who can have compassion on me that I may crave his mercy. Cast me not out, I implore Thee, of the presence of Thy grace, neither do Thou withhold from me the outpourings of Thy generosity and bounty. Ordain for me, O my Lord, what Thou hast ordained for them that love Thee, and write down for me what Thou hast written down for Thy chosen ones. My gaze hath, at all times, been fixed on the horizon of Thy gracious providence, and mine eyes bent upon the court of Thy tender mercies. Do with me as beseemeth Thee. No God is there but Thee, the God of power, the God of glory, Whose help is implored by all men." (Prayer revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p. 29-30)

God Bless and Regards Tony

There have been a lot of good suggestions to help with your situation.

What follows is a description of what is known as Perfect Contrition. **This is not a substitute for absolution. **Please seek the advice of a priest.

The following is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, paragraphs 1451-1453.

Any time when we commit a mortal sin, the first thing which is always needed is to seek God’s forgiveness because we love God for His own sake, above all things, good and bad. Thus, we express our sincere sorrow for our mortal sins along with detestation for the committed sin and a resolution not to sin again. This is known as contrition. An Act of Contrition is essential in the Sacrament of Penance.

Contrition is expressed through sincere prayer to God Who is merciful. While we recognize the ugliness of sin and we fear eternal damnation, we can put these thoughts aside and focus solely on the goodness of God and our desire to be in union with Him, here on earth and eternally in the presence of the Beatific Vision. When contrition arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, it is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Perfect contrition can obtain forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to Sacramental Confession as soon as possible. By itself, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance.

Usually there is an Act of Contrition in a prayer book or on a card used for the Sacrament of Penance. When praying together, it will be good to include some form of sorrow for sins even when mortal sins have been forgiven in the Sacrament. We need to always ask God for His graces which help us to stay clear of mortal sins and also stay clear of those annoying venial sins.

We need to view the Sacrament of Confession as a forward looking Sacrament. Jesus, in the Sacrament, is ready to give us the help to live a better life tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come. Often, we see the word “convert” or “conversion” in relationship to the Sacrament. This is a simple reminder that we have to daily intend to convert our life to the holy life in God. We need to be aware of God’s Sanctifying Grace, His presence within us.

=TruthSeeker319;11869203]I am a Catholic who is dating a non Catholic, she has decided to go through RCIA courses; however, we will not enroll until next year for it. We’ve talked Catechism many times, and she understands what is a mortal sin, what makes one, and what sins are included within. We have both committed mortal sins, but I can receive confession. How am I supposed to help her receive absolution? What does the Church teach in this instance? Does she have to wait until she is initiated?

Thanks for all the help!

She would have to do two things:



This means [1] sincere prepentance [2] a firm resolve to not sin this way again [3] repentance because of LOVE OF GOD; MOTE THAN the fear of hell.

However, ONLY God knoes if it will be acepted and GOD CAN"T be fooled.:o

God Bless you and THANKS for asking

We have both committed mortal sins, but I can receive confession. How am I supposed to help her receive absolution? What does the Church teach in this instance? Does she have to wait until she is initiated?

My friend, we should base our actions on the fact that God is ever-loving and sees our repentance as the foremost important thing. He is our Father, not some bureaucrat. If a Protestant is truly sorry for their sin, and asks forgiveness, then would God withhold forgiveness to their truly sorry heart for lack of a confessional (which they weren’t able to go to anyway, through absolutely no fault of their own)?

How could we expect a Protestant, who has no access to the Confessional, to examine themselves under the Catholic system which could necessitate a confessional? Isn’t that impossible and makes no sense?

My understanding was that a priest can only confess a person baptized Catholic, or maybe Orthodox also, unless in danger of death. I am pretty sure this is correct.

There are two kinds of repentance according to Catholic theology. There is perfect and imperfect contrition. Someone may have already mentioned it. I have not read all the posts.

Perfect contrition is repentance, sorrow for sin, motivated by the realization of God’s love for us and our love for God.

Imperfect contrition is motivated by the awareness that you are in big trouble for offending God and the consequences are severe. So you are sorry that you are in trouble and want to get out of trouble.

Perfect contrition results in immediate forgiveness. If you have experienced this you understand. The Church says you still have to confess your sin when you can. I don’t know how a non-Catholic would do this.

Imperfect contrition requires confession and absolution.

Either one results in the guilt of sin being removed.

My personal view is anyone who repents and calls to God for forgiveness receives it.

If you are Catholic you know you should confess and have experienced the joy of the sacrament.

It sounds like the original poster is worried about his wife who is coming into the Church, because she can not go to the sacrament. Jesus forbids worry. Let not your heart be troubled.

God looks at our intent. If I intend to murder someone and shoot at them and miss I am guilty of murder. The sin is in the heart as Jesus explains about lust. I don’t have to commit adultery to be guilty of the crime.

The same is true of repentance. It is a condition of the heart.

I don’t believe this is correct. In fact I know it’s not. From my experience converting, I was baptized outside the catholic faith. It was a valid baptism as most protestant baptisms are.

All I had to do to go to confession was show up when they told me. And the only difference between the start of my journey and the confession day was some education.

I still have not had my first Eucharist or confirmation, and am not fully initiated but I have had reconciliation and am free to do so whenever I like.

So being baptized in the Catholic Church really has nothing to do with it.

Canon law regarding the penitent:


Can. 987 In order that the faithful may receive the saving remedy of the sacrament of penance, they must be so disposed that, repudiating the sins they have committed and having the purpose of amending their lives, they turn back to God.

Can. 988 §1 The faithful are bound to confess, in kind and in number, all grave sins committed after baptism, of which after careful examination of conscience they are aware, which have not yet been directly pardoned by the keys of the Church, and which have not been confessed in an individual confession.

§2 The faithful are recommended to confess also venial sins.

Can. 989 All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year.

Can. 990 No one is forbidden to confess through an interpreter, provided however that abuse and scandal are avoided, and without prejudice to the provision of can. 983 §2.

Can. 991 All Christ’s faithful are free to confess their sins to lawfully approved confessors of their own choice, even to one of another rite.

My point and belief exactly.


When the canons use the phrase “the faithful” that means “the Catholics.”

Can. 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and ⇒ can. 861, §2.

There is a provision that those (previously baptized) who are about to come into the Church go to confession a short time before doing so, because Confession is required before First Communion and Confirmation. For reference, see RCIA #482.

They can be absolved if they are about to be received into the Church, but not earlier.

The whole thing is rather confusing. There is definitely a certain “disconnect” here because one cannot be truly reconciled to the Church unless one is first a full member (we cannot restore something that never existed in the first place); but on the other hand, one cannot receive Communion and Confirmation before Confession.

Personally, I’ve found the “best practice” to be first Confession for candidates on Holy Saturday afternoon; assuming that they’ll become Catholic at the Easter Vigil. Other times of year, naturally, would be different. Other pastors have found their own pastoral responses to the timing.

The do have to be formal “Candidates” before Confession, though. Given today’s date, that’s likely at this point.

Thanks for the clarifications! I was wondering if perhaps the Rite of Welcome (even though a year ago) was technically the point at which one enters “the faithful” ?

Playing devils advocate too :wink: … Wouldn’t all validly baptized be considered “the faithful”…members of the Catholic Church whether they like it or not ??

Those are philosophical questions, and truly open to interpretation. At what point does one become a member of the Christian faithful? There is simply no single answer.

In the context of the Code of Canon Law, however, the term “the Christian Faithful” refers specifically (and exclusively) to baptized Catholics and/or those received into the Church. The reason I brought it up was to explain that when we read the Code of Canon Law that term has a specific meaning, even though we might use the same term differently in another context. While it may seem that the Code allows for non-Catholics to go to Confession, it does not.

I read this earlier, but have not yet responded. It deserves an answer. Too often we say “these are the rules” without explaining the “why” of things.

The reason is that Confession (specifically absolution) reconciles us to both God and the Church. Think about the “and the Church” part. In order to be reconciles to anything, that is, in order to be brought back into good standing with any organization, community, or even person, one must first be united to the other. If I’m a member of the Raccoon Lodge, but fail to attend mandatory meetings, I’m no longer a member in good standing. In order to be returned to full status, I have to make good what was lacking before. I can have my membership re-instated and be brought back to full membership. But realize this: I cannot be restored to membership unless I was a member in the first place.

Sin separates us from the Church, to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the severity of the sin. A very minor sin separates us, but only a little. A very serious sin separates us more so. Absolution then restores us to full Communion (as much or as little as is needed).

Since non-Catholics are not first full members of the Church, they cannot be restored to a state which they never had in the first place. Only after being received into the Church as full members can they be in need of restoration. That’s the reason why absolution is only possible for Catholics.

I hope that can address your concerns.

Now for some rambling thoughts…

The already-baptized go to Confession as one of the final stages before being received into the Church. This is a necessary exception. Frankly, there is a contradiction between the theology of absolution (what I wrote above) and the necessity of being absolved before First Communion and Confirmation.

The actual way that RCIA for the already baptized was designed (and this is still the Church’s current norm of law) so that a person would be received into the Church but NOT at the Easter Vigil Mass. This is a practice that developed in recent years—to combine the non-baptized with the previously-baptized. Once we started that, it opened new problems. The previously-baptized should actually FIRST be received into the Church, THEN go to first Confession THEN receive First Communion and Confirmation. Most people don’t realize it, but the practice of receiving adults into the Church is still reserved to the bishop, and only by special delegation from the bishop may pastors receive them. The way we often see it is not the intended way, it’s only done by special permission.

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