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How the rite of confession will change on Ash Wednesday

Padre no confessionário

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Philip Kosloski - published on 02/11/23

A new prayer of absolution will be put into effect on Ash Wednesday in the United States.
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Two years ago, during the USCCB’s Spring Assembly in 2021, “a new translation of the Order of Penance” was approved by the bishops in the United States.

The translation of the original Latin text was then confirmed by the Vatican in 2022 and will be officially in force starting on February 22, 2023, Ash Wednesday.

The new translation is only slightly different and does not affect the primary words of absolution.

New Translation

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and poured out the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, + and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

Previous Translation

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, + and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

While priests are required to use the new translation, if a priest slips into the old translation, it will still be a valid confession.

The most necessary words of the prayer of absolution remain, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

As long as a priest says those words, the confession will be valid from the priest’s perspective.

The penitent is still required to make a sincere confession, not withholding any mortal sins to the best of their knowledge and ability.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience” (CCC 1493).

In reality, most penitents won’t notice the change in words of absolution, and most priests will need a few weeks to memorize the new words.

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