GENERAL ABSOLUTION

Catholics we must be aware of situations in which a priest no longer offers individual confession in their parishes but instead give general absolution (illegally). It is not permitted for a priest to offer general absolution in place of individual confessions. There are many Catholics who favor general absolution. They see that their Protestant friends do not use the sacrament of confession and they do not see why they should (see Protestantized Catholics). If we claim to be Catholic then we must obey the rules of the church (see Why Obey). Confession is the strength of the Catholic Church (see Penance/Confession)

(Q): What is General Absolution?
(A):
"General absolution is reserved for special circumstances in which it is morally or physically impossible for persons to confess and be absolved individually" (The Catholic Almanac).

The Code of Canon Law states that general absolution should be used when:

"The danger of death is imminent and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confession of individual penitents" (such as soldiers going into battle) or when "in the light of the number of penitents a supply of confessors is not readily available rightly to hear the confessions of individuals within a suitable time so that the penitents are forced to be deprived of sacramental grace of Holy Communion for a long time through no fault of their own."

We must note that general absolution when used as indicated in the Code of Canon Law requires that the recipients must be sorry for their sins and make an Act of Contrition prior to the general absolution. They must also meet with a priest to confess individually serious sins "as soon as there is an opportunity to do so before receiving another general absolution unless a just cause intervenes" (Canon 963).

If a bishop gives a priest permission to use general absolution, the priest must inform those receiving the absolution of the conditions as stated in the paragraph above.

 


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