From a reader…
On my journey to the Catholic Church, just prior to deciding to join the Church we investigated a High Anglican church (most of ours are Low, and the High are much more Catholic in feel though not as common); thankfully our desire for the Eucharist was not satisfied (how could it be, I hear?).
Whilst we were there though, I was very convicted of attending confession, which I did.
My question is: Is the confession / absolution (though I can’t remember if that is part of the Anglican Confession?) valid? I’ve recently become a much more regular confession attendee, and I was wondering if I needed to re-confess in a Catholic confessional?
We were not re-baptised when we joined the Church. Or re-married. [The Church often recognizes the baptism and marriage of other major churches and Christian ecclesial communities.]
Thanks (and thanks again for the continued encouragement to confess)
First, Anglicans do have a practice of confession. However, the Catholic Church holds that Anglicans do not have valid orders. They do not have valid Apostolic Succession or valid ordination. Their “priests” are not, sacramentally considered, priests as the Catholic Church understands them. In courtesy, we recognize the titles of “Father” and “Bishop” and so forth, but they are not priests and bishops in the Catholic Church’s sense.
Therefore, what happens in Anglican confession, while praiseworthy for what it is, and no doubt helpful on a human level, is not sacramental confession. Sacramental absolution is impossible.
That said, we cannot place limitations on God. If an Anglican penitent makes a sincere confession of sins and is sincerely sorry and sincerely desires to amend her life, it is hard to image that God will not offer some graces to that sincere penitent. Unto forgiveness of sins? I don’t know what God offers, but surely He looks kindly on such a sincere penitent and offers graces.
As far as re-confession of sins after entering the Catholic Church as an adult is concerned, before your reception into the Catholic Church you should have made a confession of all your sins, as best as you could. A general confession. If you did not do this, you probably should. Make an appointment and make a general confession.
Remember: We should do our best with such a confession. You won’t remember everything. Don’t fret. If you remember things later, take them to confession with you. If you have done your best in such a confession of sins, all your sins will be absolved, even if you didn’t catch everything over the course of your life before conversion.
Let us pray that God will also move these good people – out of their sincere desire for God and His will – to consider becoming Catholics, so that they can benefit from the ordinary means of grace which Christ gave to His Church.