EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from Andy on 02-04-2013:

What responsibility does a priest have to hear a confession from a person who needs to have that confession heard rather quickly? Is an excuse by the priest that he is packing for vacation and has no time a valid excuse?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 02-04-2013:


Unless someone is shipping off to war or going under the surgeon's knife that very day, he should respect the priest's time and look for another priest to hear his confession. If he does have an extraordinary reason for needing confession that very minute, he should say so. For example: "Father, I am so sorry, but I'm shipping out to Afghanistan early tomorrow morning and don't have time left to find another priest. Could you please hear my confession? I promise I'll be as brief as possible."

It should be mentioned though that a lay Catholic's lack of forethought should not automatically be considered to be the priest's emergency. Unless a person is dying by the side of the road, he really should do all he can to plan ahead to receive the sacraments whenever he can anticipate needing them. For a priest to offer confession outside of regularly-scheduled times or places should be treated as if it were a special favor, for which he is thanked profusely.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers