John wrote:

What does a priest do if he finds himself in a state of mortal sin, with no access to another priest for the sacrament of reconciliation, and he is scheduled to celebrate a mass?


Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

" ... you can’t receive communion if you are in a state of mortal sin. So this person’s presuming that the priest is not exempt from that which is a good presumption. Priests are not by virtue of their ordination more perfect or above other people. But whereas the congregation would have the option of abstaining from the communion obviously the priest doesn’t ... The answer is the same as if a person in the congregation does not have the ability confess. Sometimes someone will come up to me right before mass ... when there’s not really time for confession … the primary obligation of the priest is the needs of the many. There’s fifty people waiting for mass and one waiting for confession, so often times what I’ll say is, '... if you resolve that as soon as you can you will make ... a confession then you may. That is what’s called a perfect contrition. You are expressing your sorrow with that resolution that right after mass or as soon as I can or as soon as I find a priest that I will make my confession to that priest. Well the priest can do the same thing. If there’s no other priest in the same town ... then certainly the priest can do that same thing.

Now what may be behind the question, although it wasn’t asked is does that affect the fact that the priest is in a state of sin not in a state of grace? Does that affect what he’s doing with the Eucharist there? What do we have to say about that, Mike?"


Mike Hayes replied:

"I would say that Christ is the principal actor of the sacraments ... Even though they are performed by an unworthy minister. Saint Thomas Aquinas even said, 'Christ may act even through a minister who is spiritually dead.'"


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© 2013 Busted Halo®

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Show air date: January 10, 2009

Name of show: #180

Guest comments by: Fr. Dave Dwyer, Mike Hayes

Question appeared in show: 6:04


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