Validity of Absolution by the Proper Form


So, yeah, I went to confession today with a visiting priest. It was by all accounts a good confession (thanks be to God) but I did notice one anomaly that gave rise within me to a series of questions about the form of the sacrament.

Basically, the priest gave absolution with: "And I absolve you of all your sins, in the name of the Father...etc."

It didn't bother me until I remembered that the form, as given by the Holy See, does not contain the word: "all." The original Latin is as follows:

«Deus, Pater misericordiarum, qui per mortem et resurrectionem Filii Sui mundum Sibi reconciliavit et Spiritum Sanctum effudit in remissionem peccatorum, per ministerium Ecclesiae indulgentiam tibi tribuat et pacem. Et ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti ».

There is no "all" or a word in Latin equivalent to this.

Anyway, I don't really doubt the validity of my confession because it would seem to be frivolous to dwell on such a small matter.

Even still, it does make me wonder about the "form" of the Sacrament and how much change can be in the form without affecting validity.

What do y'all think?


I think your good. Maybe it was a slip on his part.


I recently returned to the Church after 5 years away and the absolution I was given was also seemed different than the one I was used to before I left. I believe it also included the word "all" and I thought that was because I had been away for so long. I thought that was to kind of cover me in case I left something out. 5 years is a long time to remember everything.


Well, I mean I think there's really two ways of looking at it: a juridical way and a more lenient way.

So, for example, one could interpret the form as being absolutely necessary in all conditions for the validity of the sacrament (thus rendering today's absolution invalid). This is problematic because it lack the oikonomia of different situations and the possibility of honest slip ups, etc.

On the other hand, one could argue that the intention and the substantive meaning of the form was conveyed (it simply added a word that was superfluous). Thus validity is assured. Also, the Council of Trent suggests that the words "I absolve you" are the only necessary usage:

"The form of the Sacrament of penance, wherein its force principally consists, is placed in those words of the minister: 'I absolve thee, etc.'; to these words indeed, in accordance with the usage of Holy Church, certain prayers are laudably added, but they do not pertain to the essence of the form nor are they necessary for the administration of the sacrament"

(Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, c. 3).

That is where I'm coming from, but it's still interesting to see how diverse the theology seems to be on this question of "form."


Perhaps, but he’s been known to bend things a little. He once said in the Institution Narrative: “broke the bread and gave it to his ‘friends’ and said…” with an orthodox consecration. He’s a really old priest who met Blessed John XXIII. It could be that.


I don't think the form of words required for a valid absolution is set in stone the way the words of institution of the Eucharist are.

In the latter case this may simply be because Our Lord Himself gave us those words, as He did the Trinitarian form for baptism, which is similarly non-negotiable.

He didn't give a particular form of words for absolution though. Nor for marriage, and I'm sure the different Christian marriages recognized by the Church would use different formulae.


[quote="Antonius_Lupus, post:5, topic:289919"]
Perhaps, but he's been known to bend things a little. He once said in the Institution Narrative: "broke the bread and gave it to his 'friends' and said..." with an orthodox consecration. He's a really old priest who met Blessed John XXIII. It could be that.


I believe there are one or two of the permitted Eucharistic prayers that use the word 'friend'. Besides, it is the words 'This is My body' and 'This is My blood' that are essential, not what precedes them.


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