According to the
Baltimore Catechism... (emphasis added)
Q. Can the
priest forgive all sins in the Sacrament of Penance?
A. The priest has
the power to forgive all sins in the Sacrament of Penance, but he may not have
the authority to forgive [them] all. To forgive sins validly in the Sacrament of
Penance, two things are required: (1) The power to forgive sins which every
priest receives at his ordination, and (2) the right to use that power which
must be given by the bishop, who authorizes the priest to hear confessions and
pass judgment on the sins.
Q. What are
the sins called which the priest has no authority to absolve?
A. The sins which
the priest has no authority to absolve are called reserved sins. Absolution from
these sins can be obtained only from the bishop, and sometimes only from the
Pope, or by his special permission. Persons having a reserved sin to confess
cannot be absolved from any of their sins till the priest receives faculties or
authority to absolve the reserved sin also.
Q. Why is the
absolution from some sins reserved to the Pope or bishop?
A. The absolution
from some sins is reserved to the Pope or bishop to deter or prevent, by this
special restriction, persons from committing them, either on account of the
greatness of the sin itself or on account of its evil consequences.
Q. Can any
priest absolve a person in danger of death from reserved sins without the
permission of the bishop?
A. Any priest can
absolve a person in danger of death from reserved sins without the permission of
the bishop, because at the hour of death the Church removes these restrictions
in order to save, if possible, the soul of the dying.
Reminder: We make no guarantee whatsoever regarding any item herein. Items herein may be the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect our views.
All applicable items may be subject to change at any time without notice. Utilize any link(s) appearing on this page at your own risk.
For more terms information, see "Important Notice" below.