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The correct formula for absolution — 6 Comments

  1. I have had this same question asked of me. Fr. Finelli is correct, of course — as we might expect. Still if priests make up their own canon at Mass, the words of absolution will be treated loosely too. Frankly as an old timer I still say “..and I absolve you of all your CENSURES and sins in the name of the Father. etc.” There aren’t too many censures around any more but old habits die hard — or, in this case, hardly die.

  2. Thank you Fathers Finelli and Kiley, with that said, isn’t the onus on the confessor and not the penitent? Isn’t it still a valid confession, if with a sincere heart, contrition and remorse/resolution not to sin again, that the sins are forgiven and that the confessor’s “creativity” will be resolved before St. Peter?

    Of course we may all be thinking, “how quaint, going to confession” or “at least I’ve got him/her in to confess!”

    One of my favorite stories about confession was years ago, rushing from yard work on a Saturday to go to confession in a neighboring parish (since closed and turned into a “fundamentalist” church/cult), zipping into the “room of Reconciliation” closing the door, kneeling down, crossing myself and saying the introductory, “bless me Father, for I have sinned…” and not hearing a response, I waited, then knowing that the priest was somewhat hard of hearing, I repeated myself. Then, I stood up and looked around the screen only to find it empty! The priest was outside the church having a cigarette!!! (So much for “i’d walk a mile for a Camel.”)

    • If the priest changes the absolution, the Sacrament is invalid. We can’t go on to say that the person’s sins are forgiven, because we just don’t know. Jesus gave us the Sacraments as the ordinary means for salvation. Maybe God forgives the penitent’s sins, but we just don’t know and it’s not good to presume what we do not know for certain in these very important matters.

      If the penitent believes the priest gave an invalid absolution, he has the obligation to question the priest about it. Don’t leave Father in ignorance and tell everyone else “what Father did.” Ask the priest: “Father, I think you did the absolution incorrectly, you may have been distracted.” “Father, you did not do the absolution as the Church gives it, will you please give me the proper formula?” “Father, I may have not heard you, but it appears you changed the worlds of absolution.” You may find out the priest just had a lapse of memory or was distracted. I have found on an occasion or two, I went blanc because something distracted me. If the penitent gets no satisfaction, then, he should contact the bishop’s office. I found a great post by Dr. Edward Peters on the topic of “Ecclesia supplet.”

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