Do Catholic Priests Forgive Adultery?

Priests can forgive adultery if confessed by a person who is truly sorry.
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Catholics believe that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins because he is God and has passed that authority to his disciples, who in turn gave the same authority to bishops and priests. Catholics also teach that forgiveness reconciles the believer with God. Through the sacrament of penance, Catholics can confess their sins and ask a priest to absolve them of their sins. Adultery, unfaithfulness to a spouse, is a sin that Catholic priests can forgive.

1 Catholic View of Sin

Catholics categorize sins in two ways: mortal and venial. Venial sins are minor actions that do not put the soul in danger because they do not break the relationship with God. There is no obligation to immediately confess such sins, but it is advised to do so. Mortal sins are failings that must be confessed because they separate one from God. They are serious sins that a person commits despite knowing them to be wrong. Adultery is classified as a mortal sin.

2 Adultery

Catholics teach that if two people have sexual relations and at least one of them is married to another, they have both committed adultery. Catholics believe that adultery is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment and the New Testament. They also teach that adultery represents the sin of idolatry, loving another god. Adultery is equally condemned by Catholics because they believe it destroys the marriage bond and harms children by weakening the family environment.

3 Getting Forgiveness

Catholics are encouraged to seek forgiveness for mortal sins, including adultery, as soon as possible through confession. The process of confession is called penance, and it requires being truly sorry for sinning and telling the sin to a priest. Catholics believe that by telling a sin to the priest, the sin is taken off the soul and replaced by God's grace. The priest forgives the sin by stating: "I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

4 Other Considerations

Although confession to a priest is strongly advised, it is also possible to confess sins, including adultery, directly to God. This is only recommended if you are in danger of death and cannot go to confession immediately; in less urgent situations, confession to a priest is encouraged. Catholics emphasize that to confess directly to God, it must be an act of perfect contrition in which one demonstrates complete love for God by repenting for all sins, simply because they offend God.

Trudie Longren began writing in 2008 for legal publications, including the "American Journal of Criminal Law." She has served as a classroom teacher and legal writing professor. Longren holds a bachelor's degree in international politics, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in human rights. She also speaks Spanish and French.