Can I go to confession if I am in the process of converting?

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sabrinaofmn

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I’m still a Protestant, but I’m 99% sure that I am going to convert. My only hold up with joining is that I know the Catechism does not allow for salvation if I leave the church after acknowleging that it is the one true Church. I want to be totally certain, and I want my husband to convert at the same time. He is on the same path, but I am further along in my studies of Catholic doctrine. I have been studying the sacraments, and I am eager to go to confession. Is it okay for me to go to confession now? Should I tell the priest that I am not yet Catholic?
 
This is a complicated question, but goes right to the heart of the matter of your question. Do you accept the Catholic Church as the true Church of Christ? This then digs into the matter of mortal sin. Confession is only required if you are persisting in a state of mortal sin. If you accept the Catholic Church as the True Church, but refuse make a proclamation of faith and join with her litergy and sacramental life, then you are persisting in a state of mortal sin. If you do not accept the Catholic Church as the true church, then you also reject the validity of some or all of the sacrements. Then the question becomes, are you persistant in your denial through ignorance or through arrogance? If it is through ignorance, then seek more answers. If it is through arrogance, then you are “obstinantly persistant in mortal sin.” and need confession more than ever, but would refuse to go.

I think that because you WANT to go to confession, the only thing that is holding you back is your proclamation that the Catholic Church is the true church founded by Christ. If you aren’t ready to do that, ask yourself why. Is it your hesitation, or do you feel compelled not to profess because of loyalty to your husband. That subject touches on many other issues. Make an appointment with your priest and get his feedback. If you do come into the Church, and make your confession, all I can say is that you will feel a sense of peace and unity with God’s grace that you have never felt before. I pray the Lord gives you guidance and strength.
 
Dear Sabrinaofmn,

The short answer is “no.” Since you are not yet baptized, you can’t go to confession.

I can understand your hesitancy…once you say “yes” you will have taken the plunge and you can’t turn back. At the same time, you seem to be nearing the point that, even if you don’t officially join, you know and believe that the Catholic Church is the one. The graces of the Sacraments would help you remain in her.
 
Have you been baptized? If not, you won’t need to go to confession at the time you enter the church, as the sacrament of baptism that you receive will wipe away all your sins and their punishment.

On going to confession now, you would not be eligible to receive absolution if you are not yet catholic, but by all means feel free to see a priest in the confessional, tell him you are not yet catholic and discuss the issues that are troublesome. No doubt he will have some wise advice for you.

For example, he might ease your mind on the issue of salvation after leaving the church. It could be that if you left the church later due strictly to a matter of conscience, and in order to join a different faith community, your salvation would not be affected.
 
I have been baptised in a legitimate Trinitarian formula. I am a baptised Protestant in the process of converting.
 
I’m sorry, Sabrinaofmn, I remember you once saying that you “aren’t converting from anything” and I took that to mean that you haven’t been baptized.

Usually, for those converting, they make their first Confession shortly before (within a week or two) their first Communion and their Confirmation… So, I guess my answer would still be “no” but…
 
Br. Dan:
I’m sorry, Sabrinaofmn, I remember you once saying that you “aren’t converting from anything” and I took that to mean that you haven’t been baptized.

Usually, for those converting, they make their first Confession shortly before (within a week or two) their first Communion and their Confirmation… So, I guess my answer would still be “no” but…
As an RCIA director I encourage those who have been baptized already to make frequent reception of the sacrament of reconcilliation provided that

a) they believe fully in the power of the priest to forgive their sins
b) they intend fully to enter into full communion with the church
c) they are baptized validly (ie they are candidates not catechumens)

Any person vaildly baptized is a memeber of the catholic church, no matter how imperfectly, until professing full communion one cannot recieve Holy Eucharist, however if you can receive the Sacrament of Reconcilliation one week before Easter Vigil, why can you not receive it two weeks before or three or four and why would you only be able to receive it once.

At one time we had a candidate who made an emergency appointment for reconcilliation on Holy Thrusday (We usually have “official” first Confessions on Holy Saturday). There is no reason he cannot receive the sacrament more than once before celebrating his first Eucharist. As a matter of fact, I applaud it. Remember the traditional latin ordering of the sacraments is
1)Baptism
2)Confession (Pennance, Reconcilliation)
3)Eucharist
4)Confirmation

1, 3 and 4 are Sacraments of Initiation. If a baptized child can celebrate the sacrament of Pennance before his first communion and years before his confirmation, than the completion of initiation into the church cannot be required for confession.

THIS IS MY OPINION. This has been confirmed for me by a cannon lawyer, however the reasoning is mine not his.

If anyone thinks I am on shaky ground here, PLEASE let me know.

As Ever,
Ross

EDIT to Add a quote from Cannon 844:
Cannon 844:
If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the national conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community, and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed.
Since most protestants would not have a minister they could approach for confession, assuming they believe in the power of the priest to offer or refuse absolution, they should be allowed to receive the sacrament. Also the cannon reads in part “in the judgement of the . . . national conference of bishops.” In the United States the USCCB has stated in its norms for the RCIA,
“The National Statutes for Catechumenate”, #36
The National Statues for the Catechumenate:
The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception
 
Ross - thank you for your answer as you make a lot of good points. Perhaps I will make these same points to the priest and see what he says.

Update: I went to confession, and I was turned away. He acted surprised, like he didn’t know what to do. He was flustered, and I got the feeling that this situation was a first for him. He told me that I would have to be one week from completing RCIA, which is nearly one year away. My question is this: if I were to die in the next year without having the opportunity to receive the sacrament of confession, where would that leave me?
 
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sabrinaofmn:
My question is this: if I were to die in the next year without having the opportunity to receive the sacrament of confession, where would that leave me?
Sabrina, it is possible for all of your sins to be forgiven without going to confession if you have “perfect contrition.” This is not easy to achieve, but since you have to wait a year, why not give it a try? Here is a link to a traditional prayer which may help you to achieve perfect contrition.

catholicfirst.com/thefaith/prayers/perfectactcontrition.cfm
 
Hmmmm…baptized, going to enter the church, but want to go to confession now…makes sense if you do go now.
It really sucks that you got turned away from the confessional. I reccomend going to your local priest during office hours, not during regular confessional hours, and talk to him there. That would be a more appropriate venue to discuss why you think you should be admitted to the sacrament of reconciliation.
What happens if you die without going to confession?
So often we get caught up in this mindset. What were to happen if I were driving to confession, or walking for that matter, and something tragic happened that resulted in my death? I would be five minutes from the confessional, with the intent to confess all of my sins and recieve absolution. Such is your intent. Although it is on a larger time scale, God operates outside of time; therefore, your desire to confess your sins would mose likely make everything hunky dory with God. Ultimately, I suggest trusting in His mercy. It is good to confess our sins and recieve absolution, but it is not God’s only way to absolve us…He is God after all! While we are alive, confession is the best way to recieve absolution, and the only way we can be 100% that we have been freed from our sins (aside from initial baptism). Pray with great vigor as you long to recieve the sacraments, and if you die while waiting: rejoice in the mercy of God for the rest of eternity!
In Christ,

Justin
 
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rjmporter:
As an RCIA director I encourage those who have been baptized already to make frequent reception of the sacrament of reconcilliation provided that

a) they believe fully in the power of the priest to forgive their sins
b) they intend fully to enter into full communion with the church
c) they are baptized validly (ie they are candidates not catechumens)

Any person vaildly baptized is a memeber of the catholic church, no matter how imperfectly, until professing full communion one cannot recieve Holy Eucharist, however if you can receive the Sacrament of Reconcilliation one week before Easter Vigil, why can you not receive it two weeks before or three or four and why would you only be able to receive it once.

At one time we had a candidate who made an emergency appointment for reconcilliation on Holy Thrusday (We usually have “official” first Confessions on Holy Saturday). There is no reason he cannot receive the sacrament more than once before celebrating his first Eucharist. As a matter of fact, I applaud it. Remember the traditional latin ordering of the sacraments is
1)Baptism
2)Confession (Pennance, Reconcilliation)
3)Eucharist
4)Confirmation

1, 3 and 4 are Sacraments of Initiation. If a baptized child can celebrate the sacrament of Pennance before his first communion and years before his confirmation, than the completion of initiation into the church cannot be required for confession.

THIS IS MY OPINION. This has been confirmed for me by a cannon lawyer, however the reasoning is mine not his.

If anyone thinks I am on shaky ground here, PLEASE let me know.

As Ever,
Ross

EDIT to Add a quote from Cannon 844:

Since most protestants would not have a minister they could approach for confession, assuming they believe in the power of the priest to offer or refuse absolution, they should be allowed to receive the sacrament. Also the cannon reads in part “in the judgement of the . . . national conference of bishops.” In the United States the USCCB has stated in its norms for the RCIA,
“The National Statutes for Catechumenate”, #36
Please Note I meant that we celebrate first Confession on “Palm” Saturday, not Holy Saturday. Sorry for any confusion.
 
I definitely think you should talk to the priest and ask to recieve confession. If your parish is anything like mine, unfortunately, the priest may be surprised to see anyone at all at confession. I see absolutely no reason why you should be denied the graces available in confession.

Peace.
 
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