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A man with rosary praying

5.9 How can my sins be forgiven if access to a priest is impossible?

Living the sacraments

The distinction between lighter (venial) sins and grave (mortal) sins comes into play here. The first are forgiven by honestly asking God’s forgiveness, praying the “I confess” at the beginning of Mass, or through acts of charity. Mortal sins can only be forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If without your fault you cannot approach a priest for this important sacrament, you can make an “act of perfect contrition”, while making the firm resolution to go to Confession as soon as possible. The effect is similar to receiving absolution, so your sins will be forgiven – but remember to go to Confession as soon as possible.

An “act of perfect contrition” means that you tell God with all your heart that you are truly sorry for your sins because you love him (and not just because you are afraid of the consequences of your sin). It is a serious moment of honesty between you and God. The Church teaches that you need to see a priest physically for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so Confession over videoconference or telephone is not possible.

If access to a priest is impossible, you can be forgiven by making an “act of perfect contrition” with the firm intention to go to Confession as soon as you can.