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Jo Anna wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • If a priest falls asleep while you are confessing your sins, and then gives you a valid absolution, is my Confession valid or would I have to repeat my sins in another Confession?

Jo Anna

  { If a priest falls asleep during Confession but later gives me absolution, are my sins removed? }

Mike replied:

Dear Jo Anna,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • If a priest falls asleep while you are confessing your sins, and then gives you a valid absolution, is my Confession valid or would I have to repeat my sins in another Confession?

Yes, if the Confessor uses the correct form for Confession, I absolve you then your sins are removed from your soul. Before administering such an important sacrament, the Confessor should always be properly prepared. That said, these days the priests and bishops of our Church have a very hard job so at the end of every Confession say:

Thank-you for your priesthood.

Without the sacramental graces that come through his priesthood, the United States and our physical world would be in a far worst condition. Nevertheless, if your Confessor is falling asleep on the job you should pray for him on a regular basis.

If he forgot to give you a penance or you forgot what it was, just ask him, inside or outside the Confessional. Check out the Exhortation by Pope St. John Paul II. [ Vatican | EWTN ].

The document states:

The other essential stage of the sacrament of penance this time along to the confessor as judge and healer, a figure of God the Father welcoming and forgiving the one who returns: This is the absolution. The words which express it and the gestures that accompany it in the old and in the new Rite of Penance are significantly simple in their-grandeur. The sacramental formula "I absolve you" and the imposition of the hand and the Sign of the Cross made over the penitent show that at this moment the contrite and converted sinner comes into contact with the power and mercy of God. It is the moment at which, in response to the penitent, the Trinity becomes present in order to blot out sin and restore innocence. And the saving power of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is also imparted to the penitent as the "mercy stronger than sin and offense," as I defined it in my encyclical Dives in Misericordia. God is always the one who is principally offended by sin —Tibi soli peccavi!—and God alone can forgive. Hence the absolution that the priest, the minister of forgiveness, though himself a sinner, grants to the penitent is the effective sign of the intervention of the Father in every absolution and the sign of the "resurrection" from "spiritual death" which is renewed each time that the sacrament of penance is administered. Only faith can give us certainty that at that moment every sin is forgiven and blotted out by the mysterious intervention of the Savior.

So if the priest says:

  • I forgive you
  • I bless you, or
  • something else other than, I absolve you.

go to another priest and have him hear your Confession again. I had this problem for a while in the Archdiocese of Boston and I wrote to my Cardinal to make him aware of this issue.

Sadly some priests from the 1960s were not properly trained or given a relaxed view of this specific and important issue.

I hope this helps,


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