Scrupulous Question: What if a priest sincerely make a mistake on the words of absolution?


#1

And this does not only confront the Words of Absolution, it could also be for the Words of Consecration or the Words of Baptism.

Lets say for example, I go into confession, confess my sins, say and act of contrition, and the priest says, "... I absolve(d) you of your sins in the name of the the Father, And of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

And the priest recognized his mistake, what happens now? Does the priest restart and say it over again, or does he make the penitent do the process of confession all over again?

I know this is a scrupulous question that I have no point in NEEDING to know the answer, but rather enjoying the knowledge of having it. :)

NOTE: This has not happened to me, just asking.

Thanks!


#2

No, you would not have to reconfess if he made a mistake on the wording. He might need to correct himself, though, depending on where in the formula the mistake was made.


#3

If he doesn't catch himself, kindly tell him he made a mistake and as if he will say the formula again.


#4

This article says that if incorrect words are used for the absolution then it is invalid. It makes no distinction between intentional and unintentional mistakes. If the penitent is aware of the mistake then he/she should confess again (for mortal sins).

The article focuses on the question of "Ecclesia supplet" and whether the Church would provide the sacrament when the form is invalid, and his answer is "No".

Many historical examples of invalid baptisms, confirmations, or ordinations would seem to bear this out. Ecclesia supplet does not remedy those cases wherein innocent persons bore the consequences of ministers making invalidating changes in sacramental form, and I don't think it does so for confession, either.

The article references an earlier article, which I was not able to find.

But short of that, God provides in other ways, too, right here and right now. He provides by giving us priests like Fr. Hoffman who will tell it like it is and alert penitents that such absolutions are invalid; He provides by telling these penitents that, while He knows these mistakes were not their fault, He still expects them to act on their knowledge of the invalidity of such absolutions and return to confession (assuming we're talking about grave sins, etc.); and I even think He provides by giving the faithful the confidence to contact their confessors, and if necessary their bishops, to inform them of serious violations of the gift that is sacramental confession.

Meanwhile, the rest of us need to be wary lest we assume too quickly that Ecclesia supplet will remedy serious mistakes in ministry just because they were not the fault of the faithful. Salvo sapientiorum iudicio.

Obviously, we are talking only about the essential words for absolution. "I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." A defect in other matters, such as not providing a penance, which comes up frequently in this forum, does not invalidate the sacrament.


#5

[quote="Edmundus1581, post:4, topic:290478"]
... *It makes no distinction between intentional and unintentional mistakes*....

[/quote]

I should correct that. The article is actually about an intentional mistake, where the priest said "May God absolve you of your sins". My guess is that a minor, unintentional slip up, eg "In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit" (omitting the "and"), or "I absolve you of your sin" (not "sins") would not invalidate the sacrament - but I'd be interested in other opinions.

I've just remembed now that this has happened to me, and I didn't even notice at the time. A priest absolved me with "I absolve you of all your sins", emphasising the "all".

So, it was actually an intentional deviation! It never occurred to me that it might invalidate the sacrament.


#6

Edmundus. I just got off reading another topic about this.

According to the Council of Florence, the VERY LEAST a priest must say for the confession to be valid is, “I absolve you.”

Of course, your priest made a very large liturgical mistake when inserting:,ALL, in the words of Absolution

But it was still valid.


#7

Frequently, especially during busy confession times (before holy days of obligation, or the Thursday before a First Friday,) the priest pronounces the words of absolution nearly simultaneously while I'm making my act of contrition. Other than catching a couple of key words, I really don't know what he's saying. I'm assuming I'm absolved, since I was given a penance and told to make an act of contrition, and then dismissed with the 'go in peace..." etc. Anybody else encounter this?


#8

[quote="JD27076, post:1, topic:290478"]
And this does not only confront the Words of Absolution, it could also be for the Words of Consecration or the Words of Baptism.

Lets say for example, I go into confession, confess my sins, say and act of contrition, and the priest says, "...** I absolve(d) you of your sins in the name of the the Father, And of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."**

And the priest recognized his mistake, what happens now? Does the priest restart and say it over again, or does he make the penitent do the process of confession all over again?

I know this is a scrupulous question that I have no point in NEEDING to know the answer, but rather enjoying the knowledge of having it. :)

NOTE: This has not happened to me, just asking.

Thanks!

[/quote]

Ignoring the (d) in the sentence what is actually wrong with the words you have quoted?


#9

[quote="JD27076, post:6, topic:290478"]
Edmundus. I just got off reading another topic about this.

According to the Council of Florence, the VERY LEAST a priest must say for the confession to be valid is, "I absolve you."

Of course, your priest made a very large liturgical mistake when inserting:,ALL, in the words of Absolution

But it was still valid.

[/quote]

Thanks! I didn't think it was invalid, but it is helpful to know that information. :)


#10

[quote="odile53, post:7, topic:290478"]
Frequently, especially during busy confession times (before holy days of obligation, or the Thursday before a First Friday,) the priest pronounces the words of absolution nearly simultaneously while I'm making my act of contrition. Other than catching a couple of key words, I really don't know what he's saying. I'm assuming I'm absolved, since I was given a penance and told to make an act of contrition, and then dismissed with the 'go in peace..." etc. Anybody else encounter this?

[/quote]

Very common. Many priests start saying "God the father of mercies..." while the penitent is making the act of contrition. Those who do often wait till the penitent has finished before saying "I absolve you...". I've always thought it was good to let the penitent hear those words, because they convey such mercy and peace, and are the penitent's encounter with Christ, but this thread has given us another reason - so that the penitent can have no cause to doubt whether he or she has received a valid absolution.


#11

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