Question Validity of Sacraments

I don’t know if this is a correct forum for this question but I will ask it anyway.

What is the Catholic teaching or position on the validity of priest giving absolution for confession or praying over the communion elements (Transubstantiation) if the Catholic priest is in a continual state of mortal sin. Giving rise to the news media accounts on clerical abuse and the lifestyle of some Catholic priests, does this nullify the sacraments above.

Mortal sin means a total lost of fellowship or relationship with God. Since the Act of Absolution and/or Consecration requires one to be in relationship with God, how does the Catholic Church respond to this question? :shrug:

God gave the Church the authority to dispense graces through the sacraments as she sees fit. Unless the Church removes faculties from the priest, and the priest follows the form set by the Church, the sacrament is valid, whatever his beliefs or state of being.

It is Christ who acts through the priest, and Christ will do so regardless of the man’s sins when it comes to the sacraments.

If I got any little details wrong above in my explanation, know that the priest’s personal disposition will not interfere with the validity of the sacraments.

The validity of the Sacraments are not based on the state of the priest’s soul. Please see “Donatism” for more information.

Not exactly sure where you got this from. That isn’t what is necessary for a valid sacrament.

how does the Catholic Church respond to this question? :shrug:

By asserting that the sacraments are valid by their own virtue, not based on the virtue of the minister. As long as the minister is validly ordained and has the faculties to act in the role of priest, then the sacraments which he administers may be valid.

The following is a fairly popular anecdote concerning St. Francis of Assisi. I first read of it in a booklet entitled,* “The Holy Spirit*”, written by the late Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR .

The excerpt below is taken from an article entitled The Danger of Criticizing Bishops and Priests

Once a Waldensian challenged Francis on his unshakeable reverence for priests, by pointing out the local pastor who was living in sin. “Must we believe in his teaching and respect the sacraments he performs?”

In response, Francis went to the priest’s home and knelt before him saying, “I don’t know whether these hands are stained as the other man says they are. [But] I do know that even if they are, that in no way lessens the power and effectiveness of the sacraments of God… That is why I kiss these hands out of respect for what they perform and out of respect for Him who gave His authority to them.” His challenger left in silence.

If the validity of the sacraments depended upon the state of the minister, how could we ever know if they were valid or not? We can’t judge the state of the priest’s soul.

That is intended as agreement with me, right?

indeed it is, as the matter has already been settled

Thanks all for your replies! It helped especially reference to Donatism.

One other question, Is it necessary to for a Catholic who perhaps committed a mortal sin, need to go to confession in order to receive forgiveness? I referring to places or during times where there are no Catholic priest available to hear confession? During those times, can they directly ask God for forgiveness?

yes. And not only at those times…

Forgiveness can occur for such long before the confession is able to occur.


1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

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