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Dear Father Angelo,

I am at the beginning of my ministry, and a doubt arose about the confession of the sick.  I have to go and administer the anointing of the sick to a seriously ill person. If he is in a situation where he cannot confess his sins and it is not even clear if he is capable of understanding, do I have to give absolution all the same? Or do I just administer the anointing directly, knowing that it has the effect of remission of sins that one cannot confess? Pray for me, so that in my priestly ministry I do not make mistakes.

In the meantime, I ask you to clarify this doubt for me as well. When young people have to get married,they go to confession and perhaps they go to confession only for this reason without true repentance. How should one behave? Please give me these clarifications so that I don’t make mistakes.

A hug,

Father Rosario

Priest’s answer

Dear Father Rosario,

1. If we are called to the bedside of a gravely ill person, and he cannot admit his own sins but is able to understand, he will be helped in issuing an act of repentance for the sins committed in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions.

Then the act of contrition is recited with him (or instead of him) and the absolution is given.

2. If, on the other hand, the sick person is no longer able to understand, absolution is given to him conditionally, that is, on the condition that he has repented of his sins within his soul.

3. After having given the absolution of sins, you will also confer on him the sacrament of Anointing.

Only if it is not possible to give absolution you can proceed directly to administering the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

4. Regarding those who come to confession before the wedding, but who do not show true repentance for their sins, I must say that here the pastoral capacity of the priest is at stake, so he is the one who must be able to arouse repentance.

It’s a unique opportunity. If the penitent is liquidated in no time at all, that confession will perhaps be of little use. If, on the other hand, the priest is able to say a few brief and appropriate words, exhorting him/her, for example, to receive the blessing that God has promised for those who sanctify feasts (Gen 2:3), to go to confession, at least on major solemnities, in order to be able to make Holy Communion, which will help his life and his family, and if the priest will accompany him/her with his prayer and with some of his personal sacrifices, then he will be able to hope that that Confession can bear some fruit. Much also depends on us priests, dear father Rosario.

A Holy Curé of Ars, a Father Leopoldo or a Father Pio would have been able to till the hardest ground, to sow something and bear fruit.

Thank you for the trust.

I assure you of my prayers and wish you a fruitful priestly ministry.

Father Angelo