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Thomas wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Does Canon Law 844 § 3 allow me, a United Methodist, to go to Confession, or is it held in the same regard as Holy Communion?

Thanks and God Bless!

  { Does this Catholic Canon allow a Protestant to go to Confession? }

John replied:


Thanks for your question.

This canon refers to the Eucharist.

Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

You can't go to Confession and receive absolution unless you repent of everything you are guilty of.

If you've come to believe that Confession is necessary and that you can't receive valid absolution in the Methodist Church while it is available in the Catholic Church, you are, in essence, admitting that remaining a Methodist is no longer a valid option without remaining in heresy and sin.

Hence, in order to receive absolution, you would have to repent of being a Methodist and resolve to enter the Church.

You can't just go to Confession and go about your way as a Methodist. Normally, you would have to enter RCIA and somewhere in the process, before you received the Sacrament of Confirmation, you would also go to Confession. This usually occurs a few days before you were confirmed.


Mary Ann replied:


The Canon in § 3 is referring to the Eastern Churches and to other churches in similar situations as them as regards to those sacraments, which means churches that have valid sacraments (and a valid priesthood). Number § 4 actually addresses your concerns, because you belong to a denomination which is not in the situation of those Churches. Canon 844, § 4, says:

§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.

The grave necessity is not defined but has been considered to refer to imprisonment, persecution, or living at great distance from your own faith community. In either case, the presumption is that one is not able to approach one's own minister, and that one requests the sacrament of his own free will.

Mary Ann

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