Receiving Communion in Grave Sin

Receiving Communion in grave sin is not to be done. One must first receive Sacramental absolution, except in the case of a grave reason. Canon 916 states:

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

My priest, a very good and faithful one, believes that a person can receive before Sacramental absolution if the person has made a perfect act of contrition and is resolved not to sin in the future. (I believe when I show him this he may suggest that receiving Communion is a grace reason, because Communion is so important.) Is anyone aware of any futher statements on this subject made by a pope or other eccesiastical documents?

The Catechism says very simply, “1415 Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.”

I think the clear indication by the use of such a summary in a catechetical document of the Church is that we should err on the side of not receiving the Eucharist when in doubt as to our being in a state of grace.


It certainly shows that the mere fact of not having been able to receive penance doesn’t itself count as ‘grave reason’ in terms of receiving communion.

From The Baltimore Catechism No. 2:

  1. May we receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition?

We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition; one who has sinned grievously must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion. The Church permits an exception in the case of one who has an urgent need to receive Holy Communion (which rarely happens) and cannot get to confession; such person an act of contrition sic].

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