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Gabriela wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm a 47 year-old female Catholic who lives in the United States.

My question concerns priests allegedly involved in the child abuse scandal.

  • If they did abuse these children, and did not confess this sin at that time, were they still eligible to celebrate Mass [and|or] the sacraments?
  • And if not, how are the believers effected who participated in those potentially invalid Masses [and|or] other sacraments?

Thank you.


  { How does unconfessed, grave sin by the Catholic clergy, effect the validity of the Sacraments? }

Paul replied:

Dear Gabriela,

Yes, the Mass and the sacraments would still be valid. One of the beauties of the sacraments is that their validity and power does not depend on the holiness of the minister; they depend instead on Christ's promise and power through them.

So if, hypothetically, a priest were in grave sin at the time he celebrated Confession or Mass,
the penitent would still be forgiven by Christ and the Mass attendee would have still been in the Real Presence of Christ and received His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. The ordained priest is God's instrument for His Church, even if, or when, he is in danger of losing his own salvation.


Mary Ann replied:


Thankfully, the spiritual state of the priest does not stop God from acting in the sacraments.

They work ex opere operato, it is said, by virtue of the action performed.

Mary Ann

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