My fiance recently asked me question which has stumped me. She will begin RCIA classes in the fall for formal admission into the Catholic Church next Easter. While she doesn’t begin formal training until then, she has studied quite a lot with me and on her own and has come to the conclusion that she agrees with the Catholic position on the need for auricular confession for mortal sin before bodily death to maintain salvation. Her question is thus: what would happen to her soul if she died before formal acceptance and her first confession (assuming she is in a state or mortal sin)? Since she knows it’s necessary and believes in the doctrine, how does the Church reconcile this with making a candidate wait until a specific date in the future to receive the sacrament? One would think that the Church would try to usher them into such an important (potentially soul saving) life event as soon as possible, not as soon as is practical for the Church. Thank you for your consideration of my question.
Baptism forgives all sins. If your fiancé is a catechumen (un-baptized) she could be morally assured of salvation without the necessity of the sacrament of reconciliation: “For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1259)
If, on the other hand, your fiance is a baptized Christian she can (and should) receive the sacrament of reconciliation right away, especially if she is conscious of mortal sin.
For more on this topic, see our tract How to Become a Catholic: catholic.com/library/How_to_Become_a_Catholic.asp