Prayer of Absolution

Is there only one standard prayer of absolution to be used in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Or, can the priests vary in the prayer of absolution used? Thanks.

In the Ordinary Form of the Sacrament, the prayer of absolution is:
God, the Father of mercies, (2 Cor. 1:3)
through the death and resurrection of His Son
has reconciled the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19; cf. Rom. 11:15; Col.1:20)
and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; (John 20:21-23)
through the ministry of the Church (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
may God give you pardon and peace, (Luke 7:50; Col. 1:14)
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, +
and of the Holy Spirit.

It is absolutely necessary for the priest to say the words in bold.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Sacrament (i.e. according to the liturgical books in use during the Second Vatican Council), the priest says (in Latin, most likely):
May almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and lead you to everlasting life.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, absolution, + and remission of your sins.

May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you. And I by His authority release you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, in so far as I am empowered and you have need. And now I absolve you from your sins; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
The first two prayers may be omitted, but the third is necessary.

Then there are the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

**1481 **The Byzantine Liturgy recognizes several formulas of absolution, in the form of invocation, which admirably express the mystery of forgiveness: “May the same God, who through the Prophet Nathan forgave David when he confessed his sins, who forgave Peter when he wept bitterly, the prostitute when she washed his feet with her tears, the publican, and the prodigal son, through me, a sinner, forgive you both in this life and in the next and enable you to appear before his awe-inspiring tribunal without condemnation, he who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.”

I once went to confession at an event where several priests were hearing confessions. I heard unfamiliar words of absolution, and wondered why (and even wondered whether the sacrament was valid). Then I found out that he is a Byzantine priest. (An excellent confessor, by the way; it was just my own ignorance.)

I don’t understand the part I have highlighted and underlined. There is no forgiveness once we die. We seal our judgement of being saved or condemned by the state of our soul when we die. We do not get a second chance after we die to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness must be sought before we die.

Our ultimate end (heaven or hell) is sealed by the time we die. But most people die with some unrepented sins, at least venial sins. And Scripture tells us that nothing imperfect can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). We can be forgiven venial sins after death; that is a purpose of Purgatory. So, yes, there is forgiveness “in the next.” Thank God for that, or nearly all of us would be destined for hell.

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