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John Paul II hearing confessions on Good Friday

Many of you belong to parishes where priests still won’t hear confessions on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. 

Some priests, liturgical experts and even diocesan liturgy offices claim the rubrics of the Missal or “Sacramentary” forbid the sacrament of Penance. 

However, this claim is absolutely incorrect. 

Here is what the texts really say. 

The previous 1970 and 1975 editions of the Missale Romanum (the Novus Ordo) said of Good Friday and Holy Saturday: “Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta penitus non celebrat… On this and the following day, the Church, from a most ancient tradition, does not at all celebrate the sacraments”.   

However, since this is in the Missal (the book for MASS), sacramenta refers only to Holy Mass and not the other sacraments. 

The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) clarified this in its official publication Notitiae (#137 (Dec 1977) p. 602).  In the 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum at paragraph 1 for Good Friday all doubt is removed.  The above cited text has been amended to say (the change with my emphasis): Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta, praeter Paenitentiae et Infirmorum Unctionis, penitus non celebrat… On this and the following day, the Church, from a most ancient tradition, does not at all celebrate the sacraments, except for (the sacraments of) Penance and Anointing of the Sick”.  

Priests can and should hear confessions during on Good Friday and on Holy Saturday.   Who can  forget the photos of the late Pope hearing confession in St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday?

Here is a bonus tip, speaking of confessions.  Some liturgists simply freak out at this idea.  It is both permitted and recommended in some circumstances for confessions to be heard during Holy Mass on other days of the year!  Want proof?  Try the CDWDS document Redemptionis Sacramentum 76 and also the Congregation’s Response to a Dubium in Notitiae 37 (2001) pp. 259-260. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Norman says:

    Father, there is no online version of Notitiae, is there? heh

  2. Jeff says:

    Yes, Father, at our indult parish–Old St. Mary’s in DC, with the wonderful Msgr. K. Bartholomew Smith as parochial vicar–we have lots and lots of confessions during Mass if there are priests available.

    Msgr. Harbert of ICEL lives in the rectory and frequently celebrates Mass (both the Missa Normativa and the 1962 version) and hears confessions–during Mass. Fine fellows and fine confessors both; Deo Gratias for them and for all good, sound Catholic priests.

  3. Norman: No, Notitiae is not online. However, those references are accurate. As far as I can tell, I may be theonly person to have posted the text online. However, anyone having a copy of the 2002MR should simply turn to the rubrics at the top of Good Friday to read what is there. IT is as clear a bell now.


  4. Jeff: Kindly give Fr. Harbert my very best and tell him that lunch or supper awaits him in Rome.


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