Can I Go to Confession Online?

Dear Friends at Catholic Exchange:

I was wondering if there are websites offering online confession for those of us finding it difficult to link up with a priest for confession in the more traditional manner.

Thanks for your guidance,

Ms. Adele Tanguy

Dear Ms. Tanguy,

Peace in Christ! In order to be valid, sacramental confession and subsequent absolution must be given in person. The Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici [CIC]), prescribes the following:

Can. 960. Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the only ordinary means by which a member of the faithful conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and the Church. Only physical or moral impossibility excuses from confession of this type; in such a case reconciliation can be obtained by other means.

Can. 964 §1. The proper place to hear sacramental confessions is a church or oratory. [§2 regards norms for the confessional and does not apply to your question] §3. Confessions are not to be heard outside of a confessional without a just cause.

Canon 960 essentially says that one must go to confession unless prevented physically or morally. Confessions are properly and typically heard in a church or oratory, according to Canon 964, unless there is a very good reason confessions are not to be heard outside of a confessional. What “other means” are being referred to in 960 in the event that one cannot go to confession?

Consider Canon 916, which addresses the reception of Holy Communion:

Can. 916. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

To sum up, if a person can confess his sins, he is to do so the ordinary way, which is to go to confession in a church or oratory and in a confessional. If this is impossible, reconciliation can be obtained by other means. Notice that the law does not say that there are other means of confession, but other means to be reconciled to God and the Church in the event one cannot make use of the ordinary means. While “other means” may be many and varied, one way, for example, that has been specified is to make an act of perfect contrition, resolving to get to confession as soon as possible. Another means can be a general absolution when auricular (one on one) confession is not possible for a large number of penitents for an extended amount of time.

To hear confessions online is incompatible with the provisions made by law. God always presents an ordinary means of grace and salvation, yet if one cannot make use of them through no fault of their own, God's hands are not tied. He still makes provision for those who call upon Him.

Lastly, Canon 213 says, “The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.” If going to confession is “physically or morally impossible” to you, your right to receive the sacraments would commend a “just cause” (Can. 964 §3) for a priest to come to you and hear your confession outside of the confessional. If you are unable to go at scheduled times, you may lawfully and by right arrange a separate time to go to a priest. Unless circumstances make it impossible, your confession is still to be heard in a confessional.

See the attached news story, Bullish on Internet´s Role in Evangelization, from Zenit news service for comments from Archbishop Foley, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which confirms what is written here.

I hope this answers your question. If you have further questions or would like to receive more information about Catholics United for the Faith, please contact us at 1-800-MY-FAITH (693-2484). May God bless your day.

United in the Faith,

David E. Utsler

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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  • Wisdomseeker

    I hate it when people answer with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo instead of being practical. Religions are created by man.

  • Ana

    Thanks for your thorough response.

  • guest

    Religions our made my man the catholic church came to be through christ and his apostles

  • FranklyS

    The Canons were written well before the internet age and the rapid advances in communications. These innovations have brought about both good and evil. However, it’s long overdue to recognise that confessions and mass can be heard and delivered using these new tools rather than the physical presence between priest and confessor. After all, the priest cannot see who is confessing, therefore doing it over the internet is conceptually the same.

  • Caitlin

    I am not Catholic, Christian, Jew, or any other denomination. I need an experienced warrior in God to talk to me. Not on a comment link, and not in person. I need guidance and I can’t explain here.

  • N/a

    Laws are a control of man, truth is in gods hands. 

  • QUESTION Is it a mortal and grave,confessible sin to participate in the care of patients having sterility procedures?

  • IdontHaveanemail

    I’ve seen porn and have taken pencils off the ground with are both concitered mortal sins so I am asking for forgiveness from the lord

  • Quote from a priest, “I would not call it Confession. I would not off Absolution online no,
    only Spiritual Direction. We can pray that God forgives their sins, we
    can hope in Divine Mercy that works at a distance, yes, but not presume
    that He will do this because it is a good thing in our eyes, you
    see…Skype Confession is permissible most likely because there is
    direct contact, but not otherwise, it goes against the finality, the
    function of Confession, direct explicit contact, where you see and hear
    the person in the Name of Jesus and they can see Jesus Personally too.”

    Private one-on-one direct contact, Private Sanctuary & Help ~ Direct one-on-one Free Counseling/Spiritual Direction/Confess-Receive Christ/Heal Relations/Pray/Contrite. All are welcome, please join,

  • Private Sanctuary & Help: Direct one-on-one Free Counseling/Spiritual Direction/Confess-Receive Christ/Heal Relations/Pray/Contrite. Please seek a Priest in person afterwards for proper Sacraments and Grace.

    Please join as temporary member for private sanctuary & counseling.
    Please converse respectfully and refrain from foul language or you will
    be removed immediately. Please remove yourself immediately as member
    afterwards and all communications and postings will be erased.

    Residing Priest: Rev. Eugene Bowski
    Two permanent members allowed – Residing Priest and Moderator-Priest’s Assistant.

    Video calling is encourage for direct personal contact. Thank you and
    may God bless you, heal you, and forgive you in Jesus’ name.

    priest cannot hear confessions online otherthan in-person. It says so in
    Canon Law. But Skype Confession is permissible most likely because
    there is direct contact, but not otherwise, it goes against the
    finality, the function of Confession, direct explicit contact, where you
    see and hear the person in the Name of Jesus and they can see Jesus
    Personally too. This facebook facility serves the same functionality of
    privacy and direct one-on-one contact.

    Of course, more souls
    will come to Christ, the more we make the Sacraments and Grace
    available, but properly and in Spirit and Truth. Otherwise… It is
    always best however to recommend people go see a Priest in person, and
    we can be like John the Baptist of latter days who prepares them for the
    Encounter. In person, body language is more apparent, and the Presence
    of Christ is felt more, in person, than electronically. Not that the
    Spirit is limited, but that is normative, the Ordinary Way of Jesus
    manifesting His Presence, He became Man for a reason, so we would be
    with Him in Person, as much as possible.

    May God bless all who visit. ♥

  • Georgavicus

    If confession can be made with any priest, then why priests aren´t avaliable online? Confessing with your local priest only gives information power to that priest over your family and others related

  • fredfredburger

    not really. who made up the catholic church and christ and his apostles? we did. not a god, we, as humans, created the god that created us because we’re clueless. Man created religion, not the other way around

  • Lisa Menino

    First of all if they make the precious exposition of the tabernacle for us i am sure in time with technology they will allow face to face confession with a priest online or at least instance messaging. It is not impossible or written in stone that this wont take place with the business of this silly work life we have in this country.

  • bucklaw

    My brothers and sister I have sinned. I have lusted more times than I care to remember, felt religion was just a disastrous tease, didn’t attend mass, have gotten angry and have been jealous. I am not sure if I have been waiting for God to give me direction or am just plain lazy. I am tired of my situation in life and really don’t feel like dealing with most priest or joining another less than Christ like parish. And lust have done that many times. If the Catholic Church won’t forgive me will you? Thanks.

  • chris

    Forgive for I have sinned I have stolen lots of money from a member when he asked me to give him the truth I could not I. Cant take the pressure on my chest I’m more sorry than I have ever been in my life

  • enahoektap

    Email me Caitlin.

  • enahoektap

    It is not the Catholic Church that we seek forgiveness from, but God. If you are truly sorry for your sins then he will forgive you as he forgave me.

  • enahoektap

    Chris, Give the money back. Even if you pay a little over a long period. You cannot seriously seek forgiveness when you have no intention of repaying this person. You have enjoyed the money and now seek forgiveness, how sorry are you really.

  • teresa

    why Skype is permissible but not web cams or is it. I understand the sacredness of it

  • teresa

    I would like to temporary join this group as I have a lot of questions and looking for answers and spiritual direction and counsel

  • j

    If the best theory is we evolved by lucky chance that is something I would not bet on.

  • Troy

    Please for give me Jesus for talking back to my parents and over sings I have done! Please for give me

  • Yes, here i use them all the time

    anonymous here

  • Jeff Watkins

    I have an uncle who I am trying to bring to appreciate confession. How do you pitch your trade? How do you encourage a person to bring themselves to being honest, sincere, to the truth of themselves with their allmighty?

  • AC

    I am agoraphobic and have panic attacks in public. I want to be able to go to confession but it has been long since I’ve attended church. What is someone like me supposed to do?

  • Goo-goo Brain

    Could always link up to Facebook and make your confession. Take pictures, maybe film the sinning you do, and go on Facebook. Everyone would like that, even the priest. (He would be able to say “back atcha!”)

  • James Hofbauer

    I will pray for you Caitlin. I admit I was looking for the easy way to confession. I figured the Church would not recognize transferring the grace of such a critical sacrament through the internet. I was just really hurting, needing to speak to a priest, to confess. If I can offer you my prayers it would be of great assistance to me. Stay strong, and pray no matter how futile it seems. God has a plan for us. We just have to submit. God bless you and may the Lord grant you his peace.

  • James Hofbauer

    You know Wisdomseeker you are here and your remark is pretty shallow mumbo-jumbo itself. There is always room for one more mumbo-jumboer.

  • James Hofbauer

    Pray the Rosary. Truly pray the Rosary. Bring peace into your heart. All the priest I know would not mind you panicking, being filled with fear when confessing. You can do it. I am commenting a lot. I just really need to focus on my faith right now. I will be so bold, cautious for it is not my place, yet I would give a warning to not listen to psychologists too much. Be careful who you trust. Especially me. Seek out the proper authority.

  • James Hofbauer

    The Church is using modern technology. EWTN has wonderful prayer sessions daily starting 2:30. You can work the Stations of the Cross, pray Divine mercy, and sing the Rosary. I bet if you do this daily, devotedly and undistributed, it will be a short matter of time before peace is graced into your life.

  • James Hofbauer

    I find this message the best of all. How wonderful.

  • lee colleton

    One should also consider that confession is traditionally anonymous but practically speaking the priest usually knows his parishioners. If one were to use a means of protecting ones identity online, then one could be truely anonymous during confession.