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Robert Craig wrote:

Hi, guys —

Recently, we have noticed some priests hearing Confessions without wearing a stole.

I was brought up with the teaching that a priest cannot celebrate the sacraments if he is not wearing his garment. Many times, in the past, a priest would tell you to wait until he went and got his stole, as it was not possible to proceed without it.

  • Are the sacraments valid if he does not wear this?
  • Also, what are the rules on this, both the old ones and new ones?

Robert

  { Does the priest have to wear his stole for a sacrament to be valid? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Robert —

Thanks for the question.

You said:
Many times, in the past, a priest would tell you to wait until he went and got this stole, as it was not possible to proceed without it.

  • Are the sacraments valid if he does not wear this?

Yes, if a priest does not wear his stole for the sacrament of Confession, it is still valid.

For a Confession to be valid:

  • the priest must be validly ordained
  • use the correct matter and form for the sacrament.
    the correct matter for the sacrament of Confession are the acts of the penitent.

    Under this category, the Catechism states:

    1450
    "Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction."

  • the correct minimum form for the sacrament of Confession are the words of absolution that are administered by the Confessor:

      "I absolve you."

    The longer form, which has the minimum form in it, is in CCC 1449 below.
    There is no reason why every priest should not have this longer form memorized.

    God, the Father of mercies,
    through the death and the resurrection of his Son
    has reconciled the world to himself
    and sent the Holy Spirit among us
    for the forgiveness of sins;
    through the ministry of the Church
    may God give you pardon and peace,
    and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

For each sacrament of the Church there is a one form (words) and one matter (what's used to perform the sacrament). For any sacrament to be valid:

  • the priest must be validly ordained
  • use the correct form and matter for the sacrament, and
  • have the intention to do what the Church wants him to do for that sacrament

You said:

  • Also, what are the rules on this, both the old ones and new ones?

The rules for the sacrament of Confession, as with the other sacraments, can be found in the Code of Canon Law.

  • The older version was first promulgated in May 1917.
  • The newer version was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in January 1983.

Here is a link to the current 1983 Vatican version:

Hope this helps,

Mike

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