Question about Anointing/Extreme Unction

The question has come up in my mind as to what extent this sacrament restores us to grace.

Suppose you have a person who is dying of cancer and is lucky enough to have their own personal priest at their bedside as they lie dying. This person (a prominent Catholic politician) was a public denier of Catholic teaching on abortion and did everything they could to make abortion more available to women.

Suppose that this person still maintained their opinions on abortion (because they don’t personally believe that it’s sinful) and receives the sacrament of anointing prior to death.

If this person still maintains his beliefs, would holy orders restore him to grace? Does the efficacy on holy orders depend on the interior disposition of the recipient?

Your question is confusing since you start by talking about the anointing of the sick and then talk about holy orders. These are two different sacraments – and holy orders would not be conferred on one who was dying.

Assuming you mean the anointing of the sick the answer is: it all depends. Usually one who is conscious is given an opportunity to confess (this is why deacons don’t do the anointing of the sick) and then the person is anointed. As usual, forgiveness of sins is dependent upon contrition. If one is not contrite then there is no forgiveness, regardless of what the external form says. Now, having said that, if a person genuinely does not believe that something is sinful then there is no imputed guilt (remember, sin requires knowledge and freedom). Thus we enter the world of subjective morality where the state of the person’s soul is known only to that person and God. We do not, and cannot, make any assumptions regarding what happens. That’s up to God.

Deacon Ed

My bad on the question above. I have no idea why I typed holy orders.

DOH :ouch:

Ooh, I just love all the intrigue…who, oh who, could you be talking about…maybe…oh my God, let me say it…Ted Kennedy???

Look, regardless of what anyone does public or private, we don’t know the disposition of his mind at the moment of receiving the last rites. Perhaps he remained the same and God forgave him for he truly knew no better or perhaps he saw the error of his ways in the final days of his life. Regardless, we should not speculate but should pray for him as we pray for all the dead that God may have mercy on them (as I pray he has on me).

Ted Kennedy inspired the question, but he is not the subject entirely. In the end, it’s a hypothetical situation/scenario. The subject is not about Ted Kennedy, it’s about the sacrament of anointing. My intention is not to get into specifics about his case. Of course, God only knows.

Thanks for the sarcasm.

A person who is dying and a priest is called to his bedside (no matter who he or she is) would not most likely not just be Anointed. But would celebrate the Sacrament of Confession (unless they are unable to do so), It would be the judgment of that priest to determine if that person was sorry for their public sinful stands. A conscious person who refuses to properly confess, would not be able to receive the Anointing of the Sick with any benefit to them. If they are unable to confess then the judgment of their sins is left to God.

Suppose the person was unable to confess. Does anointing do the same thing as confession?

If a person is unable to Confess, The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can forgive sins.

If one is unconscious or otherwise unable to confess, then the sacrament can still be given. It restores the soul to a state of grace, absolving one from their sins. It may also be possible that the priest could grant the person a plenary indulgence in articulo mortis, remitting temporal punishment for sins one has committed.

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