Let'say I was baptized in a Protestant church (for example, Presbyterian) that is in the list of churches whose baptism is recognized by the Catholic church (such as this list). But let's say I'm increasingly desirous to be Catholic and through self study came to believe all the doctrines of the Catholic church.

Main question: Can I go to the sacrament of reconciliation to confess my mortal sins and receive absolution before being confirmed?

Related questions:

  1. How about if my status changes to be a catechumen (through the RCIA program) but not yet confirmed until next Easter. Does it make a difference?

  2. If the two situations are different, what is the explanation?

  3. Is the answer up to a particular bishop's discretion / policy, or is it governed in global Canon Law?

  • Very interesting question - considering that I'm in this exact boat right here (except for the presbyterian bit) +1
    – Luke Hill
    May 20, 2022 at 1:49
  • Having been validly baptized, you can go to confession and receive absolution. In fact, if you've committed any mortal sin after your baptism, you must be absolved before you can be confirmed. The only sacraments that can be received while in a state of mortal sin are baptism and penance (often now renamed reconciliation). May 20, 2022 at 2:41
  • @AndreasBlass I'd appreciate a citation.
    – Luke Hill
    May 20, 2022 at 2:43
  • @LukeHill From Fr.Heribert Jone's book "Moral Theology" (p.393): "Every Person who has committed a mortal or venial sin after baptism can receive the Sacrament of Penance." (p.341): "Lawful reception [of confirmation] requires the state of grace." (This book was recommended to me by a traditional Catholic priest and has a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from before Vatican II, so it is, to the best of my knowledge, reliable.) May 20, 2022 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


Can a baptized Protestant (but not confirmed as Catholic) receive absolution from a Catholic priest?

If the situation merits such an undertaking as in danger of death or some other serious issue: Yes it would be permitted.

This is foreseen in Canon Law in reference to the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist. The confession of a catechumen would obviously be allowed in a serious situation such as in the danger of death.

844§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

844§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.

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