Can Non-Catholics Go to Confession?

By | September 6, 2019


Brian in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, listening
on Catholic.com, your question please for Tim Staples. Hi Tim, I love you
so much. All right! Is this Brian? Yes, this is Brian.
All right Brian, welcome, my friend. Please let me introduce myself first;
I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church, a Protestant church,
but after going to to a Catholic school for four years, I do
really love the Church, so I decided to convert to Catholicism. Fantastic!
Thank you. And I understood how the Church…I understood the reason why the
Church prevented non-Catholics to take Communion; it’s to protect them from
bringing condemnation upon themselves. But when I went to confession and I
said to the priest, “Oh, I’m not Catholic yet, but I want
to be Catholic,” the priest wouldn’t let me to confession with him. So I just wondered why the Church would prevent non-
Catholics like me to go to confession. Didn’t the Church encourage everybody to
go to confession? Right. Yes, and that’s a great question. Brian, the bottom line is
this: in order to receive a sacrament in the Church, you have to be in communion
with Christ and His Church. Now the way that God has has gifted us with
these sacraments, they each have a particular purpose.
Now baptism is the sacrament, along with faith, whereby we enter into Jesus Christ
and His Church if we’re Catholic. And that sacrament gives us, or
opens the door, if you will, to all of the other sacraments in accordance with
our particular calling in life. So unless we’re baptized, for example, we cannot
receive any of the other sacraments because we’re not in Christ yet–we’re
not in his Church–therefore that doorway has not been open to all the other
sacraments. Now, you’re Christian, you’re baptized; however, you’re not in full
communion with the Catholic Church. So while we recognize, Brian, your Christian
baptism–and I’m assuming you are a baptized Christian, Brian? Because you
mentioned you were Presbyterian. Yes. Well, we acknowledge that you are a Christian, but
you’re separated from us. In order to go on to receive another sacrament–even for
a Catholic, as you grow up in the Church, you have to profess faith that
you believe, otherwise you shouldn’t receive the sacrament. You know, we can
sin against faith or against hope as well as against charity. We can commit
sins against chastity as well as sins against faith. For example, if I say “You
know what, I don’t believe the Pope anymore is the Vicar of Christ,” well then
I have no right to receive a sacrament in the Catholic Church, because that’s an
essential teaching that, if I reject, I’m no longer in communion with the Catholic
Church. So it’s not just you, Brian, or folks that are Protestant or
outside of the Catholic faith; anyone that is not truly in communion
with Jesus Christ in his Church cannot receive a sacrament in the Church. Now,
somebody might ask, “Well wait a minute, if you fall into a sin,
though, can’t you go to confession to be re-established?” Absolutely. If you fall
into a sin, let’s say it’s a sin against the sixth commandment, then you’re sorry
for that sin, as a Catholic you go to confession, and God reestablishes you,
or as the Council of Trent said, you are “justified again” and you re-enter into
that full communion with Christ and His Church. But, Brian, if you’re a Protestant
or you’re a Catholic who rejects something that is essential
about the Catholic faith, then you can’t be reestablished into
that full communion because there’s an obstacle, there’s a block there. All right.
But now, Brian, you might ask, “Well, what if I’m a Protestant but I agree with
everything the Catholic Church teaches?” Well, come on in! Talk to the
local parish there, get into the RCIA program, because what the Church
generally–barring danger of death or something, where pretty much the
Church throws law to the wind and gets the grace to someone who professes faith
in the Catholic faith and is in danger of death, but–generally speaking, what the
Church wants you to do is make a commitment so that you show publicly, “Yes,
I am committed to the Catholic Church, I believe in Jesus Christ and in His
Church,” and that’s what happens through the RCIA program, you make that profession.
Kind of like when you’re going to get married, right? You have to go through
classes, and then you publicly profess, “Yes, I am devoted to my now-wife or
soon-to-be wife, I am committed to her for life,” that is what gives you the
right to marry her and then go on to the “consummatum,” or the consummation.
Does that help, Brian? See, the Church wants to know that you are committed, and
you have to do that publicly because, of course, receiving sacraments is not just
a private thing, it’s a public thing. Does that help at all, Brian? Yeah, that helps. And
may I ask a follow-up question? Sure, fire away. So since I’m now in this
situation, what should I do, like,
daily? And after I got confirmed, do I have to profess all
of the mortal sins I committed before my confirmation?
What you need to do, your first confession–and Brian, you’re bringing
back fond memories for me because I am a convert, I came into the Church in 1988,
and what I had to do is confess all of my known mortal sins, at the very least.
I did more than that, I confessed as many venial sins as I
could think of as well, and the Church encourages that though it’s not
absolutely required. But you have to, absolutely required, confess all the known
mortal sins you’ve committed since your baptism. Because, of course, at baptism all
sins–original sin, personal sin, and in fact all punishment due for sin–is gone.
So whether you’re baptized as a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Catholic–if
it’s a valid baptism, all the sins before that are gone. But you do need to confess
all of the mortal sins that you remember since your baptism. And you’re going to
walk out of that confessional, my friend, and I speak from experience,
feeling about 50 pounds lighter, I guarantee you. Because it’s a glorious
thing, that first confession. But does that help, Brian? Yes, that helps a lot.
Thank you very much. All right.

27 thoughts on “Can Non-Catholics Go to Confession?

  1. ice box Post author

    i ve done this (confess to a priest before I became Catholic)… I was baptized but should I confess this still?

    Reply
  2. Mr tee Post author

    In Tobit, that marriage was not public, nor even registered with any authority… It was simply her parents signing off. And again, with Jacob and Isaac, it's just the families organising it. No church or public announcement or even a ceremony. Are these invalid?

    Reply
  3. Night Yew Post author

    I wish I felt 50 lbs. lighter after Confession. I don't really have that emotional connection with it, but it's still valid (just so you know, if you don't feel anything either). You don't really have to feel something to be true for it to be true.

    Reply
  4. lambchopxoxo Post author

    So if I'm a protestant that has never been baptized my first confession will be comparatively short? I thought I would be in there for hours lol

    Reply
  5. Smeaton Lighthouse Post author

    We do go to confession. BUT it is not to any priest. We go directly to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In 1 John ch. 1 we read, if we confess our sins HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In 1 John ch. 2 we are told that we have an advocate with the Father (because we are children of God) when we sin, NOT WHEN WE CONFESS OUR SINS. The Lord Jesus Christ draws us back into fellowship with the Father.
    Why waste your time going to a confession box, when you can have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and talk directly to Him?

    Reply
  6. Harper Elizabeth Post author

    I’m not catholic but I feel guilty and I want to confess!?

    Reply
  7. Cathy Latorre Post author

    The whole world ,,,,would be a better place ,,,, with absolutely no Catholic religion past present and future I never heard so much mumbo-jumbo in my whole life you take things out of content and you make me wanna puke

    Reply
  8. Cathy Latorre Post author

    Brian don't listen to this man you're not even supposed to get baptized as a baby is he nuts he's nuts there in a trance and they don't even know it

    Reply
  9. Ewald Radavich Post author

    Yes u confess 2 God since He is the only one who can forgive sin

    Reply
  10. Ewald Radavich Post author

    Yes u confess 2 God since He is the only one who can forgive sin

    Reply
  11. Cathy Latorre Post author

    Twist things like the banister like I said what did John the Baptist preach he pointed out their sin s
    For forgiveness told to prepare you prepared the way this is so difficult

    Reply
  12. Cathy Latorre Post author

    John baptize babiesNO
    No 1 million times no he did not baptize babies

    Reply
  13. Jero Post author

    Question: "What does the Bible say about confession of sin to a priest?"

    Answer: The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. First, the New Testament does not teach that there are to be priests in the New Covenant. Instead, the New Testament teaches that all believers are priests. First Peter 2:5-9 describes believers as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood.” Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 both describe believers as “a kingdom of priests.” In the Old Covenant, the faithful had to approach God through the priests. The priests were mediators between the people and God. The priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. That is no longer necessary. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now approach God’s throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). The temple veil tearing in two at Jesus’ death was symbolic of the dividing wall between God and humanity being destroyed. We can approach God directly, ourselves, without the use of a human mediator. Why? Because Jesus Christ is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15; 10:21) and the only mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5). The New Testament teaches that there are to be elders (1 Timothy 3), deacons (1 Timothy 3), bishops (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11) – but not priests.

    When it comes to confession of sin, believers are told in 1 John 1:9 to confess their sins to God. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins as we confess them to Him. James 5:16 speaks of confessing our trespasses “to one another,” but this is not the same as confessing sins to a priest as the Roman Catholic Church teaches. Priests / church leaders are nowhere mentioned in the context of James 5:16. Further, James 5:16 does not link forgiveness of sins with the confession of sins “to one another.”

    The Roman Catholic Church bases their practice of confession to a priest primarily on Catholic tradition. Catholics do point to John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” From this verse, Catholics claim that God gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins and that authority was passed on to the successors of the apostles, i.e., the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church. There are several problems with this interpretation. (1) John 20:23 nowhere mentions confession of sin. (2) John 20:23 nowhere promises or even hints that apostolic authority of any kind would be passed on to the successors of the apostles. (3) The apostles never once in the New Testament acted as if they had the authority to forgive a person’s sin. Similarly, Catholics point to Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 (binding and loosing) as evidence for the Catholic Church’s authority to forgive sins. The same three above points apply equally to these Scriptures.

    The ability to forgive sins is God’s and His alone (Isaiah 43:25). The better understanding of John 20:23 is that the apostles were given the responsibility of declaring with utmost certainty the terms on which God would forgive sins. As the church was being founded, the apostles declared that those who believed the gospel were forgiven (Acts 16:31) and those who did not obey the gospel faced judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). As the apostles proclaimed salvation in Christ (Acts 10:43) and exercised church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:4–5), they were wielding the authority Christ had given them.

    Again, the concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. We are to confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9). As New Covenant believers, we do not need mediators between us and God. We can go to God directly because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

    Reply
  14. JGW 54 Post author

    There is one Catholic sacrament that non-Catholic Christians may receive: matrimony. If a non-Catholic marries a Catholic in a Catholic ceremony, there are conditions imposed but the marriage can happen and be sacramentally valid.

    Reply
  15. Catholic Girl Post author

    Reconciliation is such an amazing gift and everyone should open their hearts to it!

    Reply
  16. Matthieu Lavagna Post author

    That is not actually true… Orthodox can receive confession and holy Communion…

    Reply
  17. damon gardiner Post author

    call the independent catholic church they will take your confession!

    Reply
  18. Veena Paul Post author

    I'm a Hindu by birth but I believe and worship only Jesus Christ. I also love Mother Mary and all the Saints. I want to take the Holy Communion, but I don't trust the priests because their personal life is not good. I simply cannot digest the fact that I should go to a priest and confess my sins to a person who is not better than me. Sorry to say that, I'm in a fix.. Should I get baptised or remain as I am .

    Reply
  19. Daniel Meehan Post author

    I have a question about returning to the catholic church. I grew up catholic, but in my twenties stopped going to church. Four years ago I joined another church, but two years ago started to have doubts about this church and recently left that church. I just turned 57 and wanted to know about process of returning to church. I was told by someone recently that , I would have to talk to priest and attend confession. I also heard about RCIA classes. I would greatly appreciate if you can steer me in the right direction.

    Reply

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