who can "Bind and Loose?"

In the event of someone’s imminent death where no priest is available, I know I can baptize the dying person (I’m not a priest,) but if a dying person has already been baptised and wants reconciliation, can a layperson forgive his sins? I would assume the person is NOT supposed to do a full verbal confession of those sins.

ALSO, since the Catholics count the Orthodox sacraments as valid (and I THINK the EO position is not to render any judgment on sacraments outside of Orthodoxy, but I could be wrong),) do they consider it basically the same as catholic sacraments? I’m assuming he Catholic church thinks theirs is better, and vice versa for the Orthodox, but is there any quantification or explanation of the difference? Seems to me that if I am remorseful and ask my priest for absolution, the charge given all priests in the Orthodox or Catholic Churches are valid, so there would be no difference. There SHOULD be no feeling that a Catholic sacrament administered to a Catholic is somehow “less” than an EO sacrament administered to an EO, or vice versa. But I suspect the feeling is there. I would really like to be wrong about this!

No, a lay person cannot absolve sins…however, a layperson can lead a dying person in prayer asking for forgiveness…who knows, the person might make a perfect act of contrition and go straight to heaven.

I can not speak for the Orthodox Church, but the Catholic Church does NOT view the Orthodox sacraments as lesser than Catholic sacraments…this includes the Sacrament of reconciliation.

I didn’t think a layperson could absolve in that case, and I’m glad to hear that the Catholic church does not consider Orthodox sacraments to be soemhow inferior. Thanks.

Every valid priest can give valid confession in this kind of emergency, even a priest who left the Church or is heretic or is excommunicated.

No! Absolutely not. Under No circimstances.

The BEST one could do is assist this person in making a “Perfect Act of Contrition”

Must be based on sincere sorrow for sin
AND Love of God NOT fear of hell.

If this is done and the person recovers sufficiently or a priest becomes available; then a normal Confesson would be still be required.

God Bless,


A lay person can not absolve sin. I think we all agree on that. The best a lay person can do is walk a person through the Act of Contrition. If the person can’t even repeat the words, you could say, “I’m going to recite the Act of Contrition, and if you want to ask God to forgive all you sins, you just pray this in your mind and say Amen at the end in your mind.”

Then it is up to that person and God’s mercy.

And if one is really rattled, a modified Act of Contrition will work, too. I’ve heard of priests who shortened it to, “You can answer in your head: Are you sorry for all your sins you’ve ever committed?” and that was it, no time for more. You can always remind and ask the person to ask forgiveness at the point of death. That is a great act of charity.

My mother was Jewish and she baptized several soldiers during WWII at the point of death and by request. She took it very seriously. No lay person should ever refuse to baptize someone who is dying and there is no priest or deacon available.


What an incredible act of compassion.


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