ASK FATHER: When giving me absolution, Father did not say “ALL your sins”. Was that invalid?

From a reader….


At my last Confession, during the absolution, the priest said: “I absolve you from your sins, in the name, etc.” Note that he did not say “from ALL your sins”. Does this mean the absolution is invalid? Any information you can offer me on this topic is greatly appreciated. Thank You.

It is a pleasure to be able to answer this question.  Usually when I get questions about the form of absolution it has to do with Fr. Jackass who screwed around with the form, thus sewing doubt in the minds of penitents about whether or not their sins were forgiven.


If you heard the priest say “I absolve you from your sins, in the name, etc.”, that’s the proper and valid form.     The proper form does not include “all”.

The post-Conciliar, Novus Ordo form:

Deus, Pater misericordiárum, qui per mortem et resurrectiónem Fílii sui mundum sibi reconciliávit et Spíritum Sanctum effúdit in remissiónem peccatórum, per ministérium Ecclésiæ indulgéntiam tibi tríbuat et pacem. Et ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii,+ et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The traditional form, also used today freely by any Latin Church priest confessor:

Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (suspensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and I, by His authority, absolve you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, in as much as I am able and you require. + Thereupon, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In both cases, no “omnibus/cunctis… all”.

Also, there were a couple of additional, and beautiful, prayers in the traditional form which could for a good reason be omitted.

If the priest were to say “all”, that would not invalidate the absolution.   But the priest should not say “all” because “all” is NOT part of the form.

So, friend, your priest seems to have stuck to the form…. though you didn’t include the first part.   One assumes that he stuck to the form.   Provided that you did your best to confess in kind and number all your mortal sins, were sincerely sorry, and had a firm purpose of amendment, you are good to go.  The sins you forgot are also wiped away in that confession.

There is nothing so bad that one of us little mortals can do that the infinite power of our loving God can’t remedy, provided we ask for forgiveness.   And the way God wanted us to receive forgiveness and restoration for post-baptismal sins is precisely through the Sacrament of Penance which He instituted.

On that note… everyone…


ADDENDUM: 28 May 2021:

From a reader…


Two days ago, I went to confession. The confessor, however, changed the wording of the new rite form to say “I absolve you from your GUILT”, not “sins”. Was this invalid?

That was INVALID.

This priest should be given a copy of the true form of absolution.  If he persists in using the wrong form, invalid form, he should be reported to the local bishop, in writing, and with a view to informing the Congregation.

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  1. The Astronomer says:

    Who would have thought a variation of the old ‘pro multis’ controversy would pop up about the Sacrament of Confession??? ;-)~

  2. Nicholas says:

    In one light, that is a happy problem to have.

    On the other hand, it is truly terrible that a person is so accustomed to error that he thinks it is truth.

  3. 7frati says:

    Question: Would it be inappropriate to correct a priest who uses the wrong form in the confessional?

  4. 7frati: The priest might get his back up a little. However, if you have a copy of the form, as it truly is, and offer it to him with a request that he use it (and not something else) with you, … we shall see. He might just suspect that you’ll take other steps if he doesn’t.

    Remember: priests really can’t defend themselves about what they hear, say, do in the confessional because of the Seal. So it is absolutely necessary to be fair to the guy.

    At the same time, you have the right to the proper administration of the sacrament if it is being offered.

    You also have the obligation, according to Redemptionis Sacramentum, to make problems know to authorities if they cannot be corrected at the lowest possible level (in this case, in that confessional at that moment.

    6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

    [183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

    [184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

  5. SimonK says:

    Father, a question – if a penitent is in a state of mortal sin, and they go to confess their sins to a priest, and the penitent does everything necessary on their part for the sacrament to be valid, but then priest uses an invalid form of absolution – and the penitent may well have insufficient theological and liturgical knowledge to know that invalid form is invalid – is the penitent still in a state of mortal sin? If they have a sudden heart attack and die on their way out of the confessional, did they die in a state of mortal sin?

  6. Philmont237 says:

    I have often heard “I forgive you of all your sins…”

    I’m pretty certain that that’s invalid. I corrected a priest once, and he wasn’t happy about redoing it.

    [Please READ the post on which you are commenting. READ IT.]

  7. Simon_GNR says:

    My regular confessor usually says the Traditional form in Latin, rather quietly and pretty quickly. I know what he is supposed to be saying and I take it on trust that he is saying the correct words. For most of it though he could be reciting a recipe for tomato soup and I would be none the wiser. I can understand a little Latin, but not that fast and so quietly. I trust him to use valid form and to have the right intention when pronouncing absolution, and that’s enough for me. I don’t feel any the less absolved because I was unable to understand every syllable Father spoke.

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