RCIA student in mortal sin?

Hi all,

What should an RCIA student do, if he commits a mortal sin? He’s not allowed to seek Reconciliation until RCIA is complete, right? Does he have any choice but to put his faith in God’s mercy?


At this point in time, at least in my parish, the RCIA candidates have all already had their first reconciliation so an additional use of the sacrament would not be a problem. If they are a catachumen and not a candidate then I would refer them to their parish Priest for guidance.

participants in RCIA are not exactly students, they are catechumens if not baptized, and candidates if they are. Candidates should be prepared for their general confession and confess before their profession of faith and confirmation. If they feel the need to confess and are ready, they do not need “permission” of the RCIA director, this is a private matter between the candidate and the priest. The catechumens will be cleanse of all sin, original and actual, during baptism. There should be a pastoral person, usually a priest on the RCIA team, or they should ask for an appointment with the priest to discuss their problem and receive pastoral counselling.

If either the catechumen or candidate is in a condition that brings the risk of an on-going state of mortal sin, i.e. an invalid marriage, cohabiting, use of artificial contraception, immoral business practice, whatever, that condition must be remedied before they approach the sacraments.

??? We all went through formal Reconciliation with Absolution before RCIA ended and just before Easter Vigil.

… that was up here mind you.

It is not possible for a non-Catholic to commit a mortal sin. For a sin to separate you from the Church you have to have been joined first. All sins are taken away in baptism. That is not to say that those intending to join the Church shouldn’t try to live by her rules as preparation, but they do not yet have any obligations.

that statement is simply not true. It is possible for anyone over the age of reason to commit a mortal sin. Every human being has the commandments engraved on his heart, every human society and religion has a system of moral laws based on them, and every mature functioning human being is capable of knowing those laws and perceiving the consequence of breaking them. No, a non-Catholic cannot commit a mortal sin with regard to say, obedience to laws of the Church such as Mass attendance, but there are a lot more possibilities for sin beyond Church discipline.

Repent and ask God for forgiveness.

It depends on the situation.

  • If you are an Eastern Orthodox, you can recieve a Catholic Confession

-If you are a nonCatholic Christian, and in danger of death, you can recieve a Catholic Confession

-If you are a nonCatholic Christian, you can intend to confess later, say an individual act of contrition, and they make confession once becomming Catholic. You’re intention to confess alone, will not necessarily forgive your sin (depends if the contrition is perfect or imperfect). Perfect contrition is when you regret the sin because of sadness for harming your relationship with God. Imperfect contrition is when you fear hell.

If you are not Christian, you can look towards your baptism whern all your sins will be forgiven.

An RCIA Catecuman has all sins forgiven at Baptism. Us Candidates have to do a confession or two. I did an hour long confession on 14 February, and will do a mop up in 9 days.

Say what!!

So, I’m confused. If I understand correctly, non-Catholics’ sins can be forgiven, without confession, right? Salvation isn’t solely for Catholics.

So, if I had remained Methodist, but sincerely repented of my sin, I would be OK, right (where OK means simply “not damned”)? So why the need for confession of sins that have already been forgiven, by some other means?

Thanks very much!

The proper way to say this is: If I had remained a Methodist there is a chance, that my sins might be forgiven. But I won’t know until I am judged at the end of my life.

If I go to the Sacrament of Confession as a Catholic I know right now, that my sins are forgiven because I hear with my own ears the words of absolution. “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace”

I don’t know why there is so much confussion on confession?

Myself I went to confession two weeks before I decided to become a Catholic, it was wonderful. Though I was told later by one of the RCIA team members that it was not valid, but the preist I went to, was informed I wasn’t a Cathlolic at the time and he walked me through it and gave me absolution and a penance to perform. I beleived Christ’s power/Grace was truly there and it was like the one of the crowning moments in the steps I took toward deciding to become Catholic. During the RCIA process I went to confession twice more.

I don’t know the “rule”, but I believed, and still do, in the sacrament and I truly believed I received the Grace it bestows. (certain grave habitual sins, have totally gone out of my life after confessioning them.)

I’m yet to see where it is in writting on when you are allowed to go to confession, it seems to me, it is really between you and the preist you seek out the sacrament with. If you have been baptised I don’t see how it wouldn’t be valid?

Now if you are unbaptised, then it is taken care of when you are baptized.

PS If you feel called to the fullness of the Faith, I wouldn’t balk at this point!!

Speaking for myself, this whole thing is pretty new to me. Further, I’m not actually an RCIA candidate yet, because the nearest session doesn’t start for several months. So I may be missing the basics. I appreciate all the responses here.

On what grounds did your RCIA team member say that the confession was invalid? I think it’s contradictions like this that confuse me. A priest says it’s OK, but the RCIA person, who presumably knows this area pretty well, says no dice? Who’s right? How can a spiritual beginner like me know what’s right? :confused:

That sounds like very good advice. Thanks!

Not all RCIA programs/people are created equal. I would not assume that just because some one is on an RCIA team that they know any more than anyone else. Likewise not all Priests know everything one would expect them to know.

I do not know of any prohibition in Canon Law that forbids a Christian from availing themselves of the Sacrament of Penance. Canon Law 987-991 deals with the Penitent and uses the term “a member of the Christian faithful”. Canon 204 defines the term “Christian faithful”. Canon 205 and 206 address Catachumens specifically. So in this case I would have to side with the Priest. Since I am not a Canon Lawyer and have not studied this in-depth I may be wrong, so take my opnion with a grain of salt.

I just posted something on this from two sources on my blog: Can Protestants Confess (especially RCIA Candidates).

One source is a CA apologist and the other from Father Edward McNamara written on EWTN.


A person baptized as a Protestant (Eastern Christians are in a very different position) is usually impeded from receiving the sacraments of confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing and holy orders due to their lack of communion with the Catholic Church.

The answer then goes on to say that the Church can choose when to lift the impediments to comfort “one of her own,” being a Candidate about to come in.

Like I said I haven’t seen anything in writing, that says those Baptized can’t have a valid confession until the are in full communion, and if you are not Baptized then once you are all previous sins are washed away…

Canon Law Link vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM

As for RCIA team members, some members are more knowledgable then others, they are just members of the body that are walking with you on your journey into the Church. The conversion experience is just as much theirs as it is yours and vice versa. It is a time for all involved to grow in faith and knowledge of our faith.

“Christian Faithful”.

Can. 205 Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.

Can. 206 §1. Catechumens, that is, those who ask by explicit choice under the influence of the Holy Spirit to be incorporated into the Church, are joined to it in a special way. By this same desire, just as by the life of faith, hope, and charity which they lead, they are united with the Church which already cherishes them as its own.

§2. The Church has a special care for catechumens; while it invites them to lead a life of the gospel and introduces them to the celebration of sacred rites, it already grants them various prerogatives which are proper to Christians.

Can. 980 If the confessor has no doubt about the disposition of the penitent, and the penitent seeks absolution, absolution is to be neither refused nor deferred.
Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.
Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.
§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.
Can. 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is ob-liged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.
Can. 991 Every member of the Christian faithful is free to confess sins to a legitimately approved confessor of his or her choice, even to one of another rite.

Well folks - I’ve made an appointment to speak with a priest tomorrow. I’m ridiculously nervous. Wish me luck! :slight_smile:

Best wishes. You know, when I had to speak with my priest for the first time, I was so nervous I was ILL. My voice was shaky and all.

I just told him, “I am SO nervous.” He put me at ease and seemed genuinely happy to speak with me.

Blessings to you!

I have an interest in how your confession goes, what happens, etc. I haven’t yet made a confession, and I have a strong desire too. I am going through RCIA and like you I am not sure when I am ‘allowed’ to make my first confession.
It is easier for me to get information from a forum than directly ask someone in our group.

Please update with feedback when you can.


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