What if I cannot go to confession right now because of the pandemic?
April 1, 2020
Pope Francis addressed this issue in his remarks on March 20, 2020 “But many people today would tell me, ‘Father, where can I find a priest, a confessor, because I can’t leave the house? And I want to make peace with the Lord, I want him to embrace me, I want the Father’s embrace.'”
The pope said his response would be, “Do what the Catechism (of the Catholic Church) says. It is very clear: If you cannot find a priest to confess to, speak directly with God, your father, and tell him the truth. Say, ‘Lord, I did this, this, this. Forgive me,’ and ask for pardon with all your heart.”
Make an act of contrition, the pope said, and promise God, “‘I will go to confession afterward, but forgive me now.’ And immediately you will return to a state of grace with God.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, N. 1452, says: “When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called ‘perfect’ - contrition of charity. Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.”
“As the catechism teaches,” Pope Francis said, “you can draw near to God’s forgiveness without having a priest at hand. Think about it. This is the moment.”
The Apostolic Penitentiary also addressed this issue in his March 20, 2020 note on sacramental confession. It urged priests to remind their faithful that when they find themselves with the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution they can make an act of contrition directly to God in prayer. If they are sincere and promise to go to confession as soon as possible they “obtain the forgiveness of sins, even mortal sins” according to the note.