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Sometimes priests will explicitly refuse to give absolution to the penitent, is it possible to bypass the refusal of a specific priest and be forgiven of the sins another way when this happens? Whether it is by ordinary or extraordinary means. I would like to hear of all methods, if any.

  • Who do you think is able to grant absolution who isn't an ordained priest? (Nowadays, bishops are first ordained as priests, and then later ordained as bishops). What research have you done? – KorvinStarmast May 2 '18 at 13:44
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In the extremely unlikely event that a priest denied me absolution and gave no reason for the denial, I'd confess to a different priest.

But normally, a priest who denies absolution would also tell the penitent why --- perhaps the penitent isn't really contrite ("I'm sorry I stole that money, but I'm going to keep it.") or clearly hasn't done an adequate examination of conscience. In that situation, the penitent should go and remove the reasons for the denial (e.g., return the stolen money) and then confess again (to the same priest or a different one).

Your sins are also forgiven, even before confession, if you have perfect contrition for them, which means contrition based on love of God (not fear, not shame, etc.) but perfect contrition must include the intention to go to confession when possible, i.e., to use the means that God has prescribed for obtaining forgiveness.

So the bottom line is that, to circumvent a refusal of absolution, you should remove the cause of the refusal and then go to confession again to obtain absolution.

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The question is kind of vague.

Canon 980 tells us the priest cannot refuse absolution if certain of the penitent's disposition:

If the confessor is in no doubt about the penitent’s disposition and the penitent asks for absolution, it is not to be denied or delayed.

If the priest provides no information as to the impediment, it would seem he is doing an injustice to the penitent and the penitent should ask for the reasons.

  • I don't see the relevance of the second part. – DJClayworth Jun 1 '18 at 21:03
  • The quotation from Canon 980 covers only the case of a certainly properly disposed penitent. If the confessor is unsure about the penitent's disposition and cannot resolve his doubt by questioning the penitent, then this canon doesn't seem to force his decision in either direction. I think most priests would give such a penitent the benefit of the doubt and grant absolution, but I don't see the canon requiring that. – Andreas Blass Jun 1 '18 at 23:59
  • True enough, Andreas. Yet the question is rather vague. I find it interesting that you merely provided reasoning, not quoting any authority in the Church and have a +1 while I attempted to provide an authority and am given a -1. When I joined and answered without providing a quotation, I was told a quotation is required. I do agree with you, most confessors would probably give the penitent the benefit of the doubt. – Dcn. Andy Jun 9 '18 at 3:33

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