What's valid for a fake priest?

If someone pretends to be a priest and no-one knows, how valid are all the things he does?

If he leads mass and pretends to cause the transubstantiation and people receive, have they still really received or not?

If someone goes to confession and he says that they are absolved, are they really? If not, what would they do for their next confession to a real priest?

I suppose God can work through such instances, but we have no objective certainty.

The Sacrament of Orders is required for a valid priesthood.

Similar is the case with those non-Catholic ministers who allege to confect the Real Presence. We have no objective way of knowing this, other than what Christ gave us: the sacramental priesthood continued through Apostolic Succession. So objectively, say, an Episcopal service does not have the Real Presence. But Christ can work in ways known only to Him.

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All invalid except Baptism, which would still be highly illicit. No Eucharist is confected; no absolution is imparted.

If a person confesses to such a fraud, none of his sins are remitted. However, if penitent never realizes this, then he cannot be considered culpable or conscious of these sins. Therefore, he is not obligated to confess them again, as he is not conscious of them, and his next valid confession will absolve those sins as well.

If a person dies in such a state, we can trust God is merciful, and God does not play “gotcha.”

IF, however, he DOES realize through news, etc. he had confessed to a non-priest, then he still has the obligation to mention those sins again at his next confession so they can be directly remitted by the keys. But no future confessions were invalid on that account.


No, what they do is invalid and illicit. However, if the laity had no reason to doubt that they were really a priest and died before coming to the realization that they weren’t, I think that their ignorance would “save” them. They intended to go to a real Mass and have actual confessions, and the sin would fall on the fake “priest” for misleading them.

If they were able to see an actual priest, they wouldn’t have to confess it unless they knew that the person they had been seeing wasn’t who he said he was.

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Yeah, wouldn’t be valid but I assume God wouldn’t hold it against someone who was misled.


In the case where a person can make the assumption of a status, and the intent is good, then there exists the probability of the grace being effectual. Confession is one case. One enters a confessional with the assumption he is talking to a priest. In such a case Christ would certainly grant absolution if warranted. At a mass one is never certain of the disposition of the priest, but all the same grace is conferred on the congregation.

But it needs to be said. If one chooses to become a priest imposter, there are additional risks to doing so that are greater than playing with ouijia board and other evil experimentation. Satan himself would not hesitate to ordain such a person into his “ministry”. A very dangerous game to play. Last judgement would certainly be a sad thing to observe.

If someone is pretending to be a priest, then God has not given them the power necessary to absolve sins, or consecrate the hosts.
If fake priests pretend to do such things, then it is a grievous sin on their part, and not on those whom he has tricked. He cannot absolve sins, or change wine and bread into the Body and Blood of Christ.


No, sorry.

It can be argued that the sins are forgiven. But it’s a foregone conclusion that they are not absolved. There is a difference between the two, and only a priest with faculties can absolve.

If the penitent becomes aware that he had confessed to an impostor, he would be obligated to mention these at his next confession.

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Well there is no such thing as a fake Priest. Priests are ordained by their Bishop and if this hasn’t happened then they are not Priests because they haven’t received the graces and what they need to give the Sacraments and Consecrate At Mass.


Ask yourself what sort of God is more interested in the technicalities than the intent of the innocent?
That would be a god with OCD I suggest.

Is the Christian God a god with OCD :open_mouth:?
My impression from the Gospels doesn’t go that way at all.
What about you?

In the sacraments, it is not the priest who consecrates but Christ. It is not the priest who absolves, but Christ.

In the situations you describe, the fake priest is committing a terrible sin. Despite that, Christ can grant spiritual benefit to the person who was duped. Christ who consecrates and absolves, can extend those blessings in a spiritual way when the ordinary clerical way breaks down.

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A fake priest is not going to be working in a Parish.

What has prompted this question


John stood at the foot of the cross.

Suppose he stood at the foot of the cross, and some of the Good Thief’s blood fell on him. Or that Bad Thief’s blood. Or whatever. Would that blood have had any grace attached to it? No, it would have just been an ordinary person’s blood. Even if he thought that it was Christ’s blood, that wouldn’t make any difference— his misperception does not change the nature of the ordinary into the extraordinary.

So, the same thing is true for a pretend priest. You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s not the fault of the person who does not see him for the masquerader he is— but when the time comes, I don’t want to be in that person’s shoes when he settles his accounts with God.

Here’s a situation where it really happened and if you read toward the bottom of the article, it talks about what has to happen if people received sacraments from the fake priest.

If he leads mass and pretends to cause the transubstantiation and people receive, have they still really received or not?

No, only a validly ordained priest can consecrate the Eucharist.

If someone goes to confession and he says that they are absolved, are they really? If not, what would they do for their next confession to a real priest?

No. If a penitent really believed that the confessor was a validly ordained priest, it is not his fault. We would hope that God would see his intent. If the penitent later that the priest was not a real priest, he should re-confess to a real priest.

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Can happen.

A while ago a forum member had posted that he knew a priest that became an atheist but continued to carry out the actions of a Catholic priest. If that didn’t prompt it, it might’ve been something else, but I think it’s a valid query.

This would be a different situation. Once a priest, always a priest. Provided all the requirements are met (matter, form, intent; belief is not one of them).

Such a man can STILL confect the Eucharist.

However, such a man cannot validly absolve as he would have no faculties.

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I know this is only a sitcom but on one episode of MASH Klinger thought he actually had a lawyer to help him get out of the army on a section 8 but the “Lawyer” was also trying to get out and had posed as many occupations while in the Army. One he said was he had posed as a Chaplain and “somewhere in America there are ??? so many couples living in sin” because he supposedly married them and didn’t have the proper authority.

I would think a congregation would be able to tell pretty quickly. ALL of our priests are listed on the Diocese website which is public.

My understanding is that confession also absolves mortal sins that are not intentionally omitted. So if the person subsequently goes to a real priest for confession, the absolution would also cover the sins they in error believed were already confessed. Once they realized that they had confessed to a false priest, of course, they ought to bring the sins up in their next confession.

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