question about confession


I’m brand new here, apologies if this is an extremely stupid question, but it’s just something that has occured to me . . .
I live in Prague so I go to the only church where they say mass in English, the priests are English speaking Spanish Augustinians who cater for the English speaking Catholic community here. This means there is only one service I attend which isn’t really a problem, but sometimes it is a problem getting to confession as the priests are only available on weekday mornings when I have to work. They do have confession before mass every second Sunday in the month, but sometimes I would like to go more regularly than this.
So, basically my question is this : would the sacrament still be valid if I went to a Czech priest who perhaps doesn’t speak English that well . . . does the priest have to understand every word I say perfectly in order to act as the go between to god and make sure that the confession is good . . .
I suppose I’m asking this hypothetically because I would always want to be safe and go to an English speaking priest, but I’d like to know if it would be theoretically possible for a non English speaking priest to administer the sacrament properly.
thanks for your time ! I’d be grateful for any thoughts:)


Yes, the Sacrament is valid even if the priest can’t understand your Confession.

You may get some bizarre penances, depending on what he knows how to say in English, but that’s the only drawback - it’s still a valid Sacrament.

There is a priest I was reading about who hears Confessions in Spanish, but the only thing he knows how to say in Spanish is the word for Rosary, and he says he feels sorry for his Spanish penitents, because he gives his English speaking penitents much lighter penances, such as three Hail Marys, or one Our Father, but the poor Spanish people all get stuck with a whole Rosary.


Thanks jmcrae !

So I can go to a Czech priest but I might get given a bizarre penance . . . not so bad !

I just hope I’d be able to understand the penance I’m given, might end up saying a rosary just in case if he tells me what to do in Czech . . .

It’s a hard language :rolleyes:


The priest may not understand what you are saying, but God does. The priest can tell if you are sorry for your sins.
You are absolved of your sins. Any prayer or sacrifice you do after confession is a penance.


To the first poster, I’m pretty sure that the priest must be able to understand your sins if he is to know whether to forgive your sins or not (yes, they sometimes retain sins, eg. cohabitation with no purpose of amendment). For that he must be able to understand your language. I would ask Fr. Serpa in the Ask an Apologist forum to be sure. And your confessor priest(s) should know what is required also.

I believe the replies you received above are in error, but I am not completely certain.


I’m sure if he said ‘Ave Maria’ they’d probably understand.


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