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Canon 977
Question from Anonymous on 08-24-2010:
I have noticed in the press recently the highlighting of the Grave Delicts (Updated).

Could you please explain:-

Can. 977 The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death.

Does this mean no-one can be absolved for sinning against the sixth commandment, or is this in relation to Priests who have had their faculty withdrawn ? As I read later on.

Can. 1378 ˜1. A priest who acts against the prescript of can. 977 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

Many thanks.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 08-28-2010:
If a priest commits a sexual sin with someone, he cannot then absolute the same person from the sin. That is the basic meaning of canon 977. This prohibition applies to all priests. If the priest attempts to absolve the person, then the absolution is invalid. The only exception is danger of death.

For example, a priest has gone on a trip with a woman and they get sexually involved in the sin of fornication. She regrets doing this and attempts to go to confession to him. If he imparts absolution, it would be invalid. He would also incur an excommunication imposed by the law that can only be remitted by the Apostolic See (the Vatican).

However, if on the flight back, the plane is about to crash and she then is sorry and seeks absolution, then the absolution would be valid due to danger of death and the priest would not incur the excommunication.

The woman who the priest has sinned with sexually can go to another priest for valid absolution at any time. And hopefully the priest would go too.

These canons are not limited to priests who were already suspended or in another irregular situation.

I


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