Priest said "Jesus absolves you" instead of "I absolve you"

So was the sacrament of reconciliation still valid? I’ve gone over this in my head and can’t seem to find an adequate answer. I will assume that it was valid (because the priest’s intentions were to give me absolution and, after all, it is Jesus that forgives us), but I hope that someone can help me out here :slight_smile:

Thank you

First of all, you need to make sure that you heard what you heard because if the priest said “Jesus absolves you” instead of “I absolve you”, there are serious problems.

This is from the Rite of Penance:

Following the penitent’s prayer, the priest extends his hands, or at least his right hand, over the head of the penitent and pronounces** the formulary of absolution, in which the essential words are: I ABSOLVE YOU FROM YOUR SINS IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT**. As he says the final phrase the priest makes the sign of the cross over the penitent. The form of absolution (see no. 46) indicates that the reconciliation of the penitent comes from the mercy of the Father; it shows the connection between the reconciliation of the sinner and the paschal mystery of Christ; it stresses the role of the Holy Spirit in the forgiveness of sins; finally, it underlines the ecclesial aspect of the sacrament, because reconciliation with God is asked for and given through the ministry of the Church.

For any sacrament to be valid, four things are needed:

  1. Form
  2. Matter
  3. Intent
  4. Validly Ordained Minister

In this case, the form was invalid. The priest needed to use the correct formula. He needed to specifically state “I absolve you from your sins.” He is acting in the person of Jesus Christ, just as he is in the Mass when he specifically states “This is MY body. This is MY blood.”

I am almost afraid to ask this, but, was it at the Catholic Center as well? If you confessed venial sins, I would venture to say that you just need to make a good act of contrition. However, if you were in mortal sin, you should go to confession again. And, if you go to confession to the same priest and this happens again, you might gently tell him that the correct formula needs to be used. If he has done this with other penitents, then, there is a major red flag here because the validity of those confessions would be at risk. It’s a tricky situation because, on the one hand, the priest has the seal of confession; however, on the other hand, if he did this during your confession, it might probably be what he has been doing for all of the others.

I was the first-ever penitent of a newly ordained Paulist. Right when we got to the absolution, he completely blanked out. I had to give him the formula and have him say it after me. He asked me later on how I knew the formula. I told him I had gone to confession so many times that something had to stick. He told me that he often wondered if the words really meant anything. He said that his experience with me gave him a better perspective on the sacrament.

Are you sure the priest didn’t then say, “and in His name I absolve you…”. If the sins confessed were mortal and you’re sure the words of absolution were not valid, my advice would be to go to tell them in confession to another priest and tell him what happened.

If the sins were not mortal, you should trust in God and be at peace about your confession.

Then, I think you should also make an appointment with the first priest. Do not talk about what you confessed, since he won’t be able to comment on this at all outside of the confessional. Just tell him you went to confession to him and you thought you didn’t hear him say “I absolve you”. If he says he did say that, take him at his word. If he says it’s not important, go to the bishop. At that point you would not be telling the bishop so much about your confession as you would be reporting your experience to him and telling him that the priest told you in a conversation outside of confession that it was ok not to use the church’s formula of absolution.

This is a troubling situation. I hope you will find out that you misinterpreted what happened.

What is it with priests who have to mess with the formula for absolution? What right do they have to mess with people’s peace of mind? And in the confessional, of all places!

BG, the form used is a valid form.

That is the common form ( either the 2nd person passive “You are absolved” or the third person “Christ absolves you”) of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

Since the Church recognizes these as being valid forms, the absolution is valid, if somewhat illicit.

Can you give a citation? I thought that we could not mix and match rites? The priest teaching us about the Catechism told us that the priest needed to specifically state “I absolve you”.

My thoughts exactly. There is simply no reason to change the prescribed formula simply for the sake of personal idiosyncrasy or any other reason.

well, the question is if its valid or not. if that formula is used in an Eastern Church, then its obviously valid

now, if its illicit or just an honest mistake would be another question

this is like the other question about using leavened bread for Communion in the Latin Rite. is it valid? yes it is (assuming its valid matter in Eastern Rites) but and outright abuse. but valid nonetheless

Depends of course on what you mean by “could”. Are we permitted to do so? No. Is it possible to do so and retain validity? Certainly in some cases, as choy mentioned.


[quote=choy]if that formula is used in an Eastern Church, then its obviously valid…

this is like the other question about using leavened bread for Communion in the Latin Rite. is it valid? yes it is (assuming its valid matter in Eastern Rites)

I would suggest that in the case of this sacrament, the rules may not be the same as for the Eucharist. Consider the SSPX priests, who validly confect the Eucharist, but cannot grant sacramental absolution. Why? Because they lack faculties from the Church. Possession of the required faculties is an essential to the ability to grant absolution on behalf of the Church. These faculties are not granted for penance anywhere and everywhere, in whatever form the priest chooses. Rather, I think they may be limited to cases where the prescribed rites are followed.

You generally cannot mix rites, but that is a matter of licity, not validity.

As far as a citiations, the CCC also addresses that

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.”

The Chaldeans, likewise, have a different prayer of Absolution that recognizes the act of Christ in the forgivness of sin ( third person). I don’t have a link to that, but that was what I experienced when I have confessed at the local Chaldean parish.

Hi pcg2,

Good question. After reading the other posts, I must say that I am still unsure what the answer is. It seems to me that any formula for absolution must include some reference or acknowledgment of the jurisdiction/authority of the priest in the act of absolution. After all, Jesus said “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, …”

Without a reference to the jurisdiction of the priest, what would prevent any person from saying “Jesus absolves you…” and that comment result in a valid absolution? The formula posted by “Brendan” does make a reference to the priest… I suspect that every formula would, somehow, but I do not know that for sure.

Do you remember what the rest of the formula was? I don’t know how it would have sensibly concluded-- “Jesus absolves you…” Then what? “… from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”? That wouldn’t make much sense.


Thanks for the clarification. Now that I remember, he skipped over the Eastern Rite passages because he said that it did not apply to us. Of course, he also did not realize, when I posed the question during the section on the Eucharist, that we could not use paraphrased parts of the Mass during the liturgy. :shrug:

The big problem is that, at least where I live, we don’t have an Eastern Rite church anywhere within a 1,000-mile radius, including Mexico. Thus, if a priest were to use that formula, it would probably throw me and several other pentitents who are not familiar with the Eastern Rites, into a bit of a quagmire. Quite frankly, the only reason why I am now somewhat, though vaguely, familiar with the Eastern Rites is because of threse forums. The closest I have come to an Eastern Rite was when my bishop asked me to play tour guide to a visiting Eastern Rite bishop who was in town for my bishop’s installation Mass. :blush:

I, on the other hand, went to a Catholic school which had a local Byzantine parish as a ‘feeder’ school. so about a 1/4 of my classmates were Byzantine. I remember in 1st grade, they all got to go up for Communion, and we didn’t :frowning: :wink:

Detroit also has a VERY large Chaldean community. I have two Chaldean parishes ( and 1 Byzantine) within 3 miles of my house. Even our local seminary, Sacred Heart, trains BOTH Roman and Chaldean Rite priests.

So we get a rather familiar with the Eastern Rites.

I’ll take my kids to one or the other every few months, so they are familar with Eastern Liturgies.

See this bothers me a little bit because the Assyrian Church is in Communion with the Chaledean Church (I believe these are the correct ones). Rome has said that the Assyrian Church has valid Eucharist, even though the words of consecration are silent. So then, this means that Roman Catholic Priests, COULD not verbably say the words of consecration and confect valid Eucharist?

I found the Chaldean prayer of absolution.

Glory to you, O Venerable and Holy One who descended from the highest heavens to the lowest depths which his Right Hand created, who took on the likeness of a servant that his providence may be fulfilled in it, who forgave his servants in his pity and walked upon waves of water that he may sanctify Adam in his grace:

O Lord who sanctifies the impure and justifies sinners, who cleanses those defiled by sin with the hyssop of his mercies: may your merciful grace come, O Lord, and forgive me, a sinner, and this your servant, who asks absolution for his faults and forgiveness for his sins from you.

And just as the house of Cornelius was absolved through Simon, your apostle and a preacher of your life-giving Gospel, may perfect forgiveness now also dwell here, for the sake of this your servant, through your grace and mercies, now, at all times, and forever and ever.

It does mention the priest himself, but really only in that the priest too is asking for absolution.

Even then, I don’t think I ever got this full prayer of absolution when I confessed in the Chaldean parish, more of a shortened paraphrase :wink:

But as we can see, the Church recognizes that many different forms exist. The clear criteria is that absolution of sin be offered and made clear to the penitent. That can be done in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person.

That would be correct. The Words of Consecration are a prayer from Christ ( in the persona of His priest) to the Father.

What matters is that the prayer come from the Son to the Father.

It would be a strong stretch to say that a priest who is mute would be incapable of confecting the Eucharist, that would literally be to claim that the Father could not hear the prayer of Consecration unless spoken.

That would, of course, be absurd.

Thanks, Brendan. Sometimes, I wonder if my brain can handle Catholic faith/practice. It can be a little too universal for my limited faculties. :slight_smile:

I still think the priest has to “do” something in the act of absolution. If he doesn’t, what’s the point of having a priest?


The priest is the minister of the Sacramental grace. That alone is sufficent :slight_smile:

SSPX priests cannot validly confect the Eucharist, because any Sacrament would need faculties from the Church. since the Church has removed them from priestly ministries for the time being, the only Sacraments they can validly confer are Baptism, which even laypeople can do, and Confession but only in the instance of an emergency

our substitute priest is Chaldean, although he of cours conducts mass in the Latin Rite

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