Rome Newsroom, Dec 14, 2020 / 12:55 pm
Catholic bishops in northeast Italy have said that the risk of illness amid the ongoing pandemic constitutes a "grave necessity" permitting priests to confer the Sacrament of Reconciliation under the "third form," also called general absolution, before and during the Christmas season.
General absolution is a form of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which may be imparted, as defined by canon law, only in moments when death is believed to be imminent and there is no time to hear the confessions of individual penitents, or for another "grave necessity."
The Apostolic Penitentiary, a dicastery of the Roman Curia, issued a note in March saying it believed that during the COVID-19 pandemic there were cases which would constitute grave necessity, and therefore make general absolution lawful, "especially in places that are most greatly affected by the pandemic contagion, and until the phenomenon subsides."
A penitent who receives absolution in such a manner -- sometimes known as collective absolution -- must also individually confess his or her mortal sins when possible.