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The Sins a priest cannot forgive?

The Church has power to forgive sins and this authority is exercised by the members of her clergy to whom the Church has given the permission to do so.

However there are some sins that the Church has reserved to the Pope and bishops to forgive. Some of them are as follows:


1. Physically attacking the Pope including attempting to assassinate him.

2. Breaking the “Seal of the Confessional” by a priest, i.e. violating the confidentiality of the confession by revealing the sins and identity of a penitent to anyone.

3. A priest absolving an accomplice in sin.

4. Participating in abortion which includes advising, paying for, or carrying out the act and after seeking admission into the order of priests or deacons in the Church. When someone who has committed this crime in the past wants to be ordained, they must first receive dispensation from the Pope.

5. Defiling the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ is extremely grievous and can be dealt with only by the Pope.



  1. Terry Reply

    Since the sacrament of Penance is a sacrament instituted by God, I believe that if one is truly repentant, the priest in the confessional should forgive the penitent. We cannot change a sacrament since Christ made the sacraments not the customs of the country we live in; i.e. a Sacrament has nothing to do with customs, but is for jew and gentile alike.

  2. Dana Mahaffey Reply

    Can a priest forgive another priest of pedophilia?

    1. Jan-Claire Reply

      Can a Priest forgive you IF you were a pedophile?

  3. Heather Reply

    I believe that I heard on Catholic Answers that priests in the US are able to forgive abortion since it’s such a problem here. Please advise.

    1. Chuck Finkenbine Reply

      A priest can forgive this sin in the US. The pope has also said for this year of divine mercy that priest can forgive this sin. The article discusses when being ordained it requires the popes okay. However, to be forgiven by a priest is allowed here in the US.

  4. Anthony Reply

    If you abort a pregnancy in the first week or 2 you should be forgiven it’s hard enough for that young lady to do to begin with. then they must live with that horrible hurt and pain, they live with that heartless act forever, I feel that since they will think about that day forever that’s punishment in itself, and the bible I read god forgives all who wish to be forgiven, he said tho shall not kill now does that mean all our troops aren’t to be forgiven they go to hell for defending our country. I love my catholic faith but all shall be forgiven if they truly repent to be forgiven amen rite, it says the church isn’t made of stone and mortar it’s within you in you’re heart and mind, lift up a stone and you will find me split a piece of wood and I shall be thea

    1. Jan-Claire Reply

      They will deal with that hurt and pain all of their lives. With forgiveness they will learn to deal with it better and keep from doing it again. Forgiveness is not a given nor an entitlement. It needs to be requested with a genuine heart. Age has no holt on the sinner. People think that for this child there should be exceptions. God doesn’t work that way. There are no exceptions to his rule. He does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Will God meet you where you are? Absolutely…but his law will not change. A person is held accountable for their sins beginning at the age of 7 years old. That is God’s rule, not mine.

  5. Colleen Reply

    Jan-Claire…. I would just point out that the age of “7” is a custom and not God’s law.

  6. Zbigniew Dźąsło Reply

    Why abortion is inforgivable while there is no mention of murder? Isn’t that the same thing?

    1. Debra Reply

      It’s not unforgivable. It potentially carries an Laetae sententiae excommunication penalty, and therefore may require a bishop to lift the excommunication. In many dioceses, this authority has already been dispensed by the bishop to the priests under him, and for this year of mercy, the pope has given this authority to all priests around the world. But ordinarily, if there is a possibility one has incurred and automatic excommunication in committing the offense, one must go to the bishop for reconciliation so that excommunication can be lifted along with forgiving the sin.

  7. Innocent Amaese Reply

    We are humans and bound to make mistakes and if we turn to God for mercy, be sincerely sorry for our sins, God forgives us. Abusing the sacrament of penance by grossly sinning even against our own conscience; I mean doing something which you know I sinful and unrealistic prior to doing it, like the sins outlined above, then we have to pay heavily by seeking for forgiveness from high order staff. However, it is possible that God our own maker and master will surely forgive a repentant sinner.

    Heaven rejoices when one lost sheep (sinner) joins a million other good people by denouncing his sins and truly praying for the mercy of God to be bestowed upon him or her.

    Lord have mercy on me. Christ be the light to my feet and guide me in the way of righteousness. You are my God i give you thanks and my father’s God and i give you praise.

    Thank You Jesus, thank you lord.

  8. EMR Reply

    I’m curious why murder via the death penalty is not on this list. If life is to be respected from the time of conception to natural death should the death penalty not be equally as egregious?

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      You can’t tell the difference between punishing the guilty (capital punishment) and murdering the innocent (abortion)?

  9. Jack Reply

    Is defilement of the Blessed Sacrament forgiven if it was done pre-baptisimal and the person didn’t about transubsantiation?

  10. Moyo Reply

    I will like to ask a question? Is there another way of sins being forgiven except through confession

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      Talk to God directly. You don’t need some guy in a bathrobe as a middle man.

      1. Sam Reply

        We don’t need a protestants opinion since they listen to false doctrines of man and made over 40000 types of Christian beliefs.

        1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

          Catholicism is so far removed from biblical truth. It’s filled with idolatry and false teachings. You need a savior, not a bunch of trinkets and mumbo jumbo.

  11. G Reply

    Divine mercy novena and Divine Mercy Sunday I was told wipes the whole slate clean like a baptism.

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      Man, you guys have some messed up theology.

  12. ROWENA Reply

    read the Bible.. The root Bible King James Version. Nowhere of such can be found in the Bible — that human has the authority and power to forgive you of your sins, unless of course, it is done unto you; then forgive him/ her who sinned against you.

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      Finally! Someone who’s read the Bible! Thank you!

    2. Jeb Reply

      Lol, you do realize that KJV is a Protestant Bible? The reason Catholics confess to a priest is because it corresponds to the will of Jesus. After the resurrection, he appeared to his ministers and told them, “As my father sent me, so I send you”, and then breathed on them and said: “receive the Holy Spirit — whoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whoever sins you retain, they’re retained.” So he empowered His ministers with the Holy Spirit to either forgive or retain sins, just the way His father had sent Him — forgive or retain sins.

      1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

        With the New Testament, a middleman is not required to talk to God. But that’s a nice verse you made upl

  13. Fabian Mwoshi Reply

    Pope Francis gave priests power to forgive sin of abortion.

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      Neither the Pope nor any priest has any power to forgive sin. Read the Bible.

      1. Fr. Ed Reply

        Whose sins you forgive are forgiven. Gospel of John 20:23. Read the Bible.

      2. Michael Reply

        King James bible is post reformation and each passage laid out and changed to a suitable version of understanding due by his own education from a reformist tutor and so he James 1st/6th of Scotland passed such a Bible to show non Latin and for the masses who could read in their own language, but it only gives the layout to dismiss Catholic pre reformation Latin Bibles, as that was his own Protestant values .
        By all means keep to your protesting value you hold so clearly to your views, but showing yourself up in a Catholic posting page ,mm, maybe you should search for your own somewhere else read from the same book and debate there.

  14. Fr. Ed Reply

    It should be noted that priests in the United States have long since had faculties to absolve and lift the excommunication from abortion. Also, any priest can absolve any of these if the penitent is in danger of death

  15. Julian White Reply

    It is my understanding that a priest can now forgive the sins of a person that has participated in an abortion.
    I’m I right?

    1. Randall Ainsworth Reply

      I’m not familiar with messed up Catholic theology, but the Bible teaches that there is only One who can forgive sin.

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