5.4.1 Penance in General

1. The sacrament of penance is to be celebrated according to the provisions of the law of the Church and the prescriptions of the Rite of Penance. [1]

2. The seal of confession is to be kept absolutely inviolate as the law of the Church and its universal practice provide, and the use of any knowledge obtained from confession is to be most strictly limited according to the provisions of canon law. [2]

3. Times for the sacrament of penance should be determined by pastoral needs and the convenience of the people but keeping in mind that “the confessor should always be ready and willing to hear the confessions of the faithful when they make a reasonable request of him.” [3]

4. There is to be a set schedule for the sacrament of penance which offers ample time for its reception. The pastor should see that the time(s) established meet the needs of the people. This schedule may never be changed to accommodate weddings.

5. Every parish is expected to schedule communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Penance (Form II) periodically during the year, especially during Advent and Lent. This can be done by each parish individually or in collaboration with neighboring parishes. (See #5.4.3.2 Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Individual Absolution.) However, communal services for school children or for catechetical children or for first confession are better scheduled outside these two seasons, so that area confessors will be available.

6. Periodic catechesis regarding the Rite of Penance must be provided in every parish.



[1] cc. 959-991; c. 844; Rite of Penance. John Paul II, m.p. Apostolic Letter on Certain Aspects of the Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, Misericordia Dei (May 2, 2002). Available at Vatican website. [Hereafter Misericordia Dei.]

[2] cc. 983-985; c. 1388.  John Paul II, m.p. Apostolic Letter Norms on More Grave Delicts Reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (April 30, 2001). Available at Vatican website. Also see Letter sent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to Bishops of the entire Catholic Church and to other interested Ordinaries and Hierarchs: On More Grave Delicts Reserved to the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (May 18, 2001).

[3] Rite of Penance, n. 10 b. See cc. 843 §1 and 986 §§1-2, Misericordia Dei, n. 1 b.


Date approved by Bishop


Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor