What is a duly authorized priest?

I was reading around the internet, and i heard your sins can only be confessed to a duly authorized priest.
What does this mean?

It means a validly ordained priest who has faculties from his bishop or superior.

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And has faculties in the diocese in which he hears your confession. So, for example, a priest who has full sacramental faculties in his home diocese of Brooklyn can’t hear your confession in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles without getting those faculties there.

This is incorrect; a priest who possesses faculties either from his ecclesiastical superior or by the law itself can exercise this faculty everywhere, unless the competent authority of another territory has expressly forbidden the priest from hearing confessions in that territory. If the priest’s own canonical superior revokes his faculties, however, they are likewise revoked everywhere.

Canon 967 §2 says the following:

“Those who possess the faculty of hearing confessions habitually whether by virtue of office or by virtue of the grant of an ordinary of the place of incardination or of the place in which they have a domicile can exercise that faculty everywhere unless the local ordinary has denied it in a particular case, without prejudice to the prescripts of ⇒ can. 974, §§2 and 3”.

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Sorry—my bad. I was using the old Code.

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Is the pastor or a parochial vicar of a church a duly authorized priest and can hear confessions?
Stupid question ik

Generally, yes. Just a slight clarification/addition. There can, however, be some rare situations whereby a priest has faculties to hear confessions, but those faculties are not necessarily worldwide (even not-considering the part about being prohibited by the Ordinary were he’s visiting).

He has to be granted faculties the the “ordinary of the place of incardination” or the place of domicile for them to be exercised everywhere.

Take, for example, a newly ordained priest (say, literally ordained just a few days ago). He does not yet have faculties from his own bishop. He visits another diocese, and plans to be there about 2 weeks. That local bishop grants him faculties to hear confessions. Those faculties would be limited to the diocese where he is visiting.


A pastor has faculties to hear confession “by the law itself.” If a bishop feels that a priest is unqualified to hear confessions, he shouldn’t appoint him a pastor in the first place. Likewise, in order to exercise the office of pastor, it’s necessary for that priest to be able to hear confessions.

A parochial vicar is different. He might or might not have faculties to hear confessions. Obviously, most of them will have such faculties, but that’s not a given. The faculties still have to be formally granted.


Do you know any way I can figure out if they are or not?

If he is a priest who has an actual assignment from the diocese (parochial vicar, hospital chaplain, etc) then it’s almost a given that he has faculties. It would be EXTREMELY rare for him not to have them. Exceedingly rare.

Likewise, if he’s sitting in the confessional on a regular basis and the pastor is aware of this, then, you can trust the pastor that the priest has faculties.

It is very, very, rare for a priest not-to-have faculties to absolve. It might happen in the case of a very newly ordained priest (because the chancery hasn’t had a chance to write the letter yet), or a religious order priest in certain circumstances. If he doesn’t have faculties, he KNOWS this, and he won’t offer himself for Confession.

The only situation where I would suggest any concern whatsoever would be if he’s a priest who is not from your own diocese, and your own priest doesn’t know him personally.

Unless you have some specific reason to doubt him, I see no reason (repeat: no reason) why you should think he lacks faculties.

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Call up the rectory and ask. You can also schedule a confession at that time.

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