Receiving "Conditional Absolution"


#1

Does anyone here know about the concept of receiving "conditional absolution" in which someone is absolved, but it's on the condition they do X (ie: make restitution) by x date, and if they fail to meet that condition, the absolution is no longer any good and has no effect?

Supposedly, I was absolved conditionally. The priest told me he was absolving me "conditionally" and explained it as such as I have put.

I can't find this concept of conditional absolution in any moral theology books I have that discuss confession and absolution. Furthermore, theologically it makes no sense. Jesus didn't say what sins you forgive are forgiven, unless they fail to do something. Then they'll be unforgiven. It sounds almost childish in how children "unforgive" someone because they don't like that person before.

I'm starting to think my priest might have been using scare tactics to force restitution, which seems like something he would do.

Anyone familiar with this who can confirm or deny this? Preferably with credibility?


#2

I don’t believe there is “conditional” absolution. The penitent is either absolved or not.


#3

[quote="TheWarriorMonk, post:2, topic:323208"]
I don't believe there is "conditional" absolution. The penitent is either absolved or not.

[/quote]

There's conditional absolution for things like if the priest is absolving someone who appears dead, but it's not known for sure if the soul has left the body. There is also conditional absolution if the priest isn't entirely sure the penitent is contrite, so he will absolve on the condition the penitent is contrite. What seems to be the question here is if absolution can be conditional upon a condition set in the future.

Where's a moral theologian when you need one? sigh


#4

Never heard of such a thing. I would be interested to hear from some of our more distinguished members on the subject.


#5

No I think one is either "absolved" or not.

The meaning of the term "conditional absolution" that I recall is: Conditional absolution was a term used in the case of one who was baptized conditionally due to a prudent doubt about the baptism --they then went to confession for at least the mortal sins since the doubted baptism. I was called conditional cause if the person had not been validly baptized in the first baptism then at the conditional baptism the sins would have been washed away and thus no matter for confession would be there for absolution....

(and as you note regarding the person who appears to be dead --thus it is again a question of is the person able to be absolved....if they are then well they are. If they have left for the other shore -then they are not.)


#6

There is no such thing as conditional absolution. The priest cannot compel you to perform a penance upon which condition absolution depends, as this would violate the seal of confession. If he absolved you, you are absolved. Period.

-ACEGC


#7

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:1, topic:323208"]

I'm starting to think my priest might have been using scare tactics to force restitution, which seems like something he would do.

Anyone familiar with this who can confirm or deny this? Preferably with credibility?

[/quote]

Now regarding restitution -- lets say one steals a car -- well does one need to at least intend to make restitution in order to be absolved? Yes. I cannot just keep the car and still be absolved. For then I am not repentant. So I suppose one can call that "conditional" in a sense.


#8

I realize that, but he was quite specific. Make restitution or else…


#9

Restitution is NOT the penance.

Though yes I can see that some ways that restitution could be done cannot be required…like the driving the car to the Police Station and saying here I am I took this.


#10

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:8, topic:323208"]
I realize that, but he was quite specific. Make restitution or else...

[/quote]

One must make restitution. Yes. But it may need to be occult (secret) restitution at times.


#11

A priest cannot absolve ‘conditionally’, nor can he condition absolution on any action that would require you to expose your sin publicly. Neither can he require such a public act be performed as your penance.

Once we agree to a penance, we’re obligated to perform it, however. (I couldn’t find any reference in the rite, though, to this obligation.) Was he asking you to do something that would publicly identify you, in the course of restitution, or just something that could be done anonymously for the sake of restitution? Perhaps he was just impressing upon you the need to perform this act for the sake of making restitution?


#12

[quote="Gorgias, post:11, topic:323208"]

Once we agree to a penance, we're obligated to perform it, however.

[/quote]

As to penance -- a once accepted penance --may later be changed.

Restitution though is not per se the penance -- but part of repentance per se.

One cannot simply say steal something and just keep it....


#13

The only conditional absolution I am aware of (and I'm not a moral theologian) is the in the case of emergency where death may occur and you cannot hear everyone's confession. You absolve on the condition that whoever survives must go to confession again, but if they die they are absolved (if they meet the usual requirements for sacramental confession).

Maybe your priest was thinking of deferring absolution which used to be common. Priest tells penitent that he wont/can't absolve until such-and-such actions are taken. The best example is in the early Church if one repented of schism your absolution was deferred until public penance was made (or something like that, been a while since I read it).

But only your priest knows what he meant and what he intended so ask him! If it was incorrect or unjust, then at least you know on your part that you're freed from your sins.

God Bless


#14

I’m a little confused by this.

As I understand it, confession does require at least imperfect contrition to be valid, and part of contrition is a desire to make restitution. I thought that while that desire had to be acted on, and while failing to make restitution might be another sin, that simply knowing that one should, and planning on doing so at the time of confession, was enough to make the confession valid.

That is, if I steal a car, and go to confession while planning to just keep the car and not do anything to correct my action, then I would think that that may very well show a lack of contrition which may invalidate the sacrament.

But if I steal the car, am contrite, plan on making restitution, go to confession, and then decided not to make restitution, I would think (again, please correct me if I’m wrong) that the original confession was valid but that I have sinned again by deciding not to make restitution. (Although if I change my mind a couple times, and end up actually making the restitution, this may be a temptation resisted rather than another sin depending on how exactly that works inside my head.)

I have never heard of a confession being conditional upon the act of restitution (though there is much I have not heard of). The closest I can come to thinking of anything that might make sense along those lines is the priest saying “you know part of being contrite is planning on making restitution, right? so if you don’t plan on doing so, and if you don’t do it, then this confession was invalid.”

But that’s not quiet the same as the sin going away and then coming back. And I could just be wrong.

This sounds like a question for Fr. Z.


#15

[quote="Iron_Donkey, post:14, topic:323208"]
I'm a little confused by this.

As I understand it, confession does require at least imperfect contrition to be valid, and part of contrition is a desire to make restitution. I thought that while that desire had to be acted on, and while failing to make restitution might be another sin, that simply knowing that one should, and planning on doing so at the time of confession, was enough to make the confession valid.
correct

That is, if I steal a car, and go to confession while planning to just keep the car and not do anything to correct my action, then I would think that that may very well show a lack of contrition which may invalidate the sacrament.
correct

But if I steal the car, am contrite, plan on making restitution, go to confession, and then decided not to make restitution, I would think (again, please correct me if I'm wrong) that the original confession was valid but that I have sinned again by deciding not to make restitution.

Correct

.

[/quote]


#16

[quote="edward_george, post:6, topic:323208"]
There is no such thing as conditional absolution. The priest cannot compel you to perform a penance upon which condition absolution depends, as this would violate the seal of confession. If he absolved you, you are absolved. Period.

-ACEGC

[/quote]

Exactly. Find a new priest to confess to.


#17

I did. He never answered.

The bishop will be at my school tomorrow. Perhaps if the opportunity arises, we can have this moral theological discussion.


#18

[quote="Bookcat, post:9, topic:323208"]
Restitution is NOT the penance.

Though yes I can see that some ways that restitution could be done cannot be required....like the driving the car to the Police Station and saying here I am I took this.

[/quote]

One cannot be required to reveal one's crime like that. One can simply return the stolen itsm anonymously or make restitution anonymously.


#19

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:8, topic:323208"]
I realize that, but he was quite specific. Make restitution or else...

[/quote]

Or else what? Your absolution is revoked? :eek: He can take it back retroactively? :eek:

This seems like a problem to me.


#20

[quote="St_Francis, post:18, topic:323208"]
One cannot be required to reveal one's crime like that. One can simply return the stolen itsm anonymously or make restitution anonymously.

[/quote]

That is what I said :)


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.