SPLIT: Confession in another language from your own?


I am [edited] currently in a situation where I need to go to confession in order to receive Communion, but I am living in Quebec where I might not be able to find an English-speaking priest. Aside from tediously translating word by word with a dictionary, I have no means of translating into French for the priest.

Because I am young and don’t yet have a driver’s license, I also can’t go to confession on my own, as the church is too far away. I also don’t want to share with anyone else that I am in a state of mortal sin, and thus can’t make it clear that I have an urgent need to go to Confession.

Does anyone have any advice? I will be in Quebec for a year, so I don’t want to delay receiving Communion for however many months it takes for me to become adequately fluent.


English is still pretty known - you might be able to find a Priest who knows enough for the purpose.

Also - a dictionary can be helpful.

Look up the French word for “murder” or “fornication” or “missed Sunday Mass” etc and then hold up 2 fingers for the number.

If it becomes not possible for one to confess in a way where the Priest understands your words - no English speaker etc - it can be possible to confess still (even though the Priest does not understand) and for the Priest give you absolution and then you confess all mortal sins when the impossibility ceases (to a Priest who knows English).

So check around - it is likely one will know English there. After all it is Canada not China.



I suspect I will have to go with a French Confession. As I mentioned, it would be difficult for me to “look around” without a means of independent transportation (I could take buses, but then I’d have to explain why to my parents). I guess the first step is figuring out how to ask a priest in French if he can hear my Confession…




Hopefully your penance will be given in understandable terms, such as unum Pater Noster, unum Rosarium, etc.



My apologies, I guess I didn’t read your post very carefully. I think now that I should be able to get my sins across to the priest. It was comforting to learn that I would still receive absolution if the priest didn’t quite understand me.


It might be helpful to confess

  1. face-to-face. A surprising amount of meaning is communicated by gestures and facial expressions.
  2. in a place where you can speak at full volume. Accents are more difficult when whispered.


You could also type in your sins into a translator, write them down and pronounce them in the confessional. You could also look up the French words for the numbers of times.

Years ago, there were actually books published that helped you do this…a friend of mine found one at a used bookstore sometime ago.


I have been to confession in a number of foreign countries, several times with priests who, in hindsight, I think may not have completely understood me. (One time, after confessing to a Filipino priest, he asked me, “Are you sure you’re pregnant?” :eek: I hadn’t confessed anything sexual at all…)

I always started by kneeling down and asking, “Father do you speak English?” Very often what would happen is the priest would say “A little. Go ahead” or something like that and the occasionally offer me absolution in his native language.

A word about your embarrassment. I used to hate to ask to go to confession, but it’s a parent’s responsibility to help their kids receive the sacraments. Why not just say something like, “You know, mom, I really feel like I should go to confession again soon. Could you help me find an English-speaking priest?”


I haven’t had to go to confession in another language but I can relate to this
Just because you are going to confession doesn’t mean you are in the state of mortal sin. Sometimes you may just need to confess something to get help with whatever sin you are struggling with, and in that sense, it is urgent even though it is not a mortal sin. Or you need to get it off your chest. I think your parents can understand that. :slight_smile:


Well, I guess you can start by learning the prayers involved in Latin (sign of the cross, bless me father…, act of contrition). At least if the priest has even some training in Latin (which he should) he can get through that with you.

Maybe start by saying, “I cannot speak French” in French and follow up with “Can you speak English?” Say what you did in English and let the absolution be given in French or Latin (if the priest knows it).

What matters is that you went to Confession and was given Absolution.


Thanks, everyone, for the advice. :slight_smile:

I know enough French that I should be able to manage the “Bless me Father…” in French, once I look up the translation. I should also be able to understand the penance well enough. I guess the hardest part will be to explain my need for confession to the priest, unless I find one who speaks English.


Look it up in google for the rite of reconciliation for penitents (in french).
Or look for a church that has a priest who could understand english.


I am an American living in France for almost thirteen years. Welcome to my world.

Since I have a copy of this, here is a loose translation:[INDENT]How to Confess

*]Upon entering the confessional or reconciliation room, I could say: « Benissez-moi Mon Père, parce que j’ai péché. » (“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”)
*]I introduce myself to the priest.
*]I tell him how long it has been since my last confession.
*]I cite my sins with confidence. The priest might help me to discern my sin: « Je demande pardon au Seigneur pour… » (“I ask the Lord for forgiveness for…”)
*]The priest invites me to conversion and proposes a penance.
*]I say the Act of Contrition: « Mon Dieu, j’ai péché contre toi et mes frères, mais près de toi se trouve le pardon. Accueille mon repentir et donne-moi la force de vivre selon ton amour. » (“My God, I have sinned against you and my brothers, but forgiveness is found close to you. Welcome my repentance and give me the strength to live according to your love.”) -OR- « Mon Dieu, j’ai un très grand regret de vous avoir offensé, parce que vous êtes infiniment bon et que le péché vous déplait. Je prends la ferme résolution, avec le secours de votre grâce, de ne plus vous offenser et de faire pénitence. » (“My God, I deeply regret offending you, because you are infinitely good and sin displeases you. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to offend you no more and to do penance.”)
*]He (the priest) gives me absolution by saying: « Que Dieu notre Père vous montre sa miséricorde ; par la mort et la resurrection de son Fils, il a réconcilié le monde avec lui et il a envoyé l’Esprit Saint pour la rémission des péchés : par le ministère de l’Eglise, qu’il vous donne le pardon et la paix. Et moi, au Nom du Père et du Fils et du Saint Esprit, je vous pardonne tous vos péchés. » (“May God our Father show you his mercy; by the death and resurrection of his Son, he has reconciled the world with him and he has sent the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins; by the ministry of the Church, may he grant you forgiveness and peace. And I, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I absolve you of all your sins.”)
*]I respond: Amen.
*]The priest says to me: « Allez en paix ! » (“Go in peace!”)
[/INDENT]Now, I will be honest: in my confessions in French, it does not go like this word for word (aside from absolution, which is always granted as stated). But in general, this is the procedure.

This would be much more disturbing if you’re not even a woman :wink:


Not to worry…:slight_smile: Enjoy Québec!

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