Quick Confession question


Just came up in a conversation and I didn’t know the answer. Can a non-Catholic go to Confession? What I really am curious about is about if you need to be Catholic to receive a Sacrament. If it is not a Sacrament, does the seal still apply to a priest? Please provide sources and thank you.


A non Catholic cannot go to Confession without prior training such as RCIA where someone is being received into the Church.


Only Catholics can receive the sacraments, confession included. (The only exception concerns Orthodox, who have valid sacraments, who might not have access to their own clergy for a lengthy time, during an emergency situation.)

Priests do not hear confessionw of non-Catholics. They might counsel a non-Catholic, but would not “pretend” to hear a confession in the sacramental sense.


I suppose on some provisional level they can have their sins/problems listened to by a priest so that he can give advice. Catholic military chaplains do this all the time for non-Catholics. But no, absolution cannot be imparted.


You can go if you have been baptised and you have an understanding of confession and what sin is. If you feel the need to go to confession at the moment, then go. As long as you explain to the priest at the start that you’re not Catholic and tell him if you’re in the process of converting or not. That’ll help him to help you. Many people end up in confessionals simply out of a need to tell someone and hear words of forgiveness. Your priest will probably be delighted to have you there.

If it’s easier for you to do confession face to face, many churches have an “open confession” area, just ask the priest if you can do that. Otherwise, it’s great to be able to go behind a curtain or whatever, speak all your mistakes to someone and have them advise you on how to avoid them again. Confession is a good part of being Catholic, you feel all shiny and clean when you come out!

I hope that this will be a great part of a journey that will lead you to the Catholic Church, a journey I found to be a very happy one. I hope and pray that you can have that happiness too.


Yes – under particular circumstances and yes the seal still applies.

Code of Canon Law (844):

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.



In addition to these circumstances there is that of baptized adult converts who can, and if they have ever committed a mortal sin must, go to confession prior to being received into the Catholic Church with First Communion and Confirmation.


Right – they should go to confession prior to their reception at some point…

but they are not really in the area we think of as “non-Catholics”

I know I considered myself a ‘Catholic at heart’ and in belief well before…:slight_smile:


At one point about five years ago, I sponsored someone through RCIA. I remember that about a month before the Easter Vigil, I went on a sponsor/candidate retreat where Confession was done. At what point is it okay to perform Confession for a candidate?

I am fully aware about the Eastern rites and Sacraments. I am not concerned about those. I am more curious about Protestants and Non-Christians.

Thank you and God bless.


The Eastern orthodox churches are still catholic, just not Catholic, if that makes sense. That said, under certain circumstances protestants may receive absolution even if they don’t intend on becoming Catholic. Protestants may also receive the Eucharist too under certain circumstances, even if they have no intent on ever becoming Catholic. :mad:


The *Code of Canon Law *there explains the circumstances etc.


In danger of death, and if the person is intent on becoming Catholic, or even if he expresses Catholic faith in the sacraments and requests them, then NOW is the appropriate time for the person to receive the sacrament.

If there is no danger of immediate death, the normal time for a baptized Protestant to make his or her first Confession is a few days, up to a couple of weeks or so before the Easter Vigil. Of course, if the person is not baptized, he or she would not confess until after the Easter Vigil.


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