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The Sanctifying Function of the Church » The Sacraments » The Sacrament of Penance
Canon 959. In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a lawful minister, are sorry for those sins and have a purpose of amendment, receive from
God, through the absolution given by that minister, forgiveness of sins they have committed after baptism, and at the same time they are reconciled with the Church, which by sinning they wounded.
The Sanctifying Function of the Church » The Sacraments » The Sacrament of Penance » The celebration of the sacrament
Canon 960. Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the sole ordinary means by which a member of the faithful who is conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and with the Church. Physical or moral impossibility alone excuses from such confession, in which case reconciliation may be attained by other means also.
Canon 961. §1 General absolution, without prior individual confession, cannot be given to a number of penitents together, unless:

1° danger of death threatens and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;

2° there exists a grave necessity, that is, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of the sacramental grace or of holy communion for a lengthy period of time. A sufficient necessity is not, however, considered to exist when confessors cannot be available merely because of a great gathering of penitents, such as can occur on some major feastday or pilgrimage.

§2 It is for the diocesan Bishop to judge whether the conditions required in §1, n. 2 are present; mindful of the criteria agreed with the other members of the Episcopal
Conference, he can determine the cases of such necessity.
Canon 962. §1 For a member of Christ’s faithful to benefit validly from a sacramental absolution given to a number of people simultaneously, it is required not only that he or she be properly disposed, but be also at the same time personally resolved to confess in due time each of the grave sins which cannot for the moment be thus confessed.

§2 Christ’s faithful are to be instructed about the requirements set out in §1, as far as possible even on the occasion of general absolution being received. An exhortation that each person should make an act of contrition is to precede a general absolution, even in the case of danger of death if there is time.
Canon 963. Without prejudice to the obligation mentioned in can. 989, a person whose grave sins are forgiven by a general absolution, is as soon as possible, when the opportunity occurs, to make an individual confession before receiving another general absolution, unless a just reason intervenes.
Canon 964. §1 The proper place for hearing sacramental confessions is a church or oratory.

§2 As far as the confessional is concerned, norms are to be issued by the Episcopal
Conference, with the proviso however that confessionals, which the faithful who so wish may freely use, are located in an open place, and fitted with a fixed grille between the penitent and the confessor.
[NB see Authentic Interpretation of canon 964 §2, 7.VII.1998]

§3 Except for a just reason, confessions are not to be heard elsewhere than in a confessional.
The Sanctifying Function of the Church » The Sacraments » The Sacrament of Penance » The minister of the sacrament of penance
Canon 965. Only a priest is the minister of the sacrament of penance.
Canon 966. §1 For the valid absolution of sins, it is required that, in addition to the power of order, the minister has the faculty to exercise that power in respect of the faithful to whom he gives absolution.

§2 A priest can be given this faculty either by the law itself, or by a concession issued by the competent authority in accordance with can. 969.
Canon 967. §1 Besides the Roman Pontiff, Cardinals by virtue of the law itself have the faculty to hear the confessions of Christ’s faithful everywhere. Likewise, Bishops have this faculty, which they may lawfully use everywhere, unless in a particular case the diocesan Bishop has refused.

§2 Those who have the faculty habitually to hear confessions, whether by virtue of their office or by virtue of a concession by the Ordinary of either the place of incardination or that in which they have a domicile, can exercise that faculty everywhere, unless in a particular case the local Ordinary has refused, without prejudice to the provisions of cann. 974 §§2 and 3.

§3 In respect of the members and of those others who live day and night in a house of an institute or society, this same faculty is by virtue of the law itself possessed everywhere by those who have the faculty to hear confessions, whether by virtue of their office or by virtue of a special concession of the competent Superior in accordance with cann. 968 §2 and 969 §2. They may lawfully use this faculty, unless in a particular case some major Superior has, in respect of his own subjects, refused.
Canon 968. §1 By virtue of his office, for each within the limits of his jurisdiction, the faculty to hear confessions belongs to the local Ordinary, to the canon penitentiary, to the parish priest, and to those others who are in the place of the parish priest.

§2 By virtue of their office, the faculty to hear the confessions of their own subjects and of those others who live day and night in the house, belongs to the Superiors of religious institutes or of societies of apostolic life, if they are clerical and of pontifical right, who in accordance with the constitutions have executive power of governance, without prejudice however to the provision of can. 630 §4.
Canon 969. §1 Only the local Ordinary is competent to give to any priests whomsoever the faculty to hear the confessions of any whomsoever of the faithful. Priests who are members of religious institutes may not, however, use this faculty without the permission, at least presumed, of their Superior.

§2 The Superior of a religious institute or of a society of apostolic life, mentioned in can. 968 §2, is competent to give to any priests whomsoever the faculty to hear the confessions of his own subjects and of those others who live day and night in the house.
Canon 970. The faculty to hear confessions is not to be given except to priests whose suitability has been established, either by examination or by some other means.
Canon 971. The local Ordinary is not to give the faculty habitually to hear confessions to a priest, even to one who has a domicile or quasi-domicile within his jurisdiction, without first, as far as possible, consulting that priest’s own Ordinary.
Canon 972. The faculty to hear confessions may be given by the competent authority mentioned in can. 969, for either an indeterminate or a determinate period of time.
Canon 973. The faculty habitually to hear confessions is to be given in writing.
Canon 974. §1 Neither the local Ordinary nor the competent Superior may, except for a grave reason, revoke the grant of a faculty habitually to hear confessions.

§2 If the faculty to hear confessions granted by the local Ordinary mentioned in can.
967, §2, is revoked by that Ordinary, the priest loses the faculty everywhere. If the faculty is revoked by another local Ordinary, the priest loses it only in the territory of the Ordinary who revokes it.

§3 Any local Ordinary who has revoked a priest’s faculty to hear confessions is to notify the Ordinary who is proper to that priest by reason of incardination or, if the priest is a member of a religious institute, his competent Superior.

§4 If the faculty to hear confessions is revoked by his own major Superior, the priest loses everywhere the faculty to hear the confessions of the members of the institute.
But if the faculty is revoked by another competent Superior, the priest loses it only in respect of those subjects who are in that Superior’s jurisdiction.
Canon 975. Apart from revocation, the faculty mentioned in can. 967 §2 ceases by loss of office, by excardination, or by loss of domicile.
Canon 976. Any priest, even though he lacks the faculty to hear confessions, can validly and lawfully absolve any penitents who are in danger of death, from any censures and sins, even if an approved priest is present.
Canon 977. The absolution of a partner in a sin against the sixth commandment of the
Decalogue is invalid, except in danger of death.
Canon 978. §1 In hearing confessions the priest is to remember that he is at once both judge and healer, and that he is constituted by God as a minister of both divine justice and divine mercy, so that he may contribute to the honour of God and the salvation of souls.

§2 In administering the sacrament, the confessor, as a minister of the Church, is to adhere faithfully to the teaching of the magisterium and to the norms laid down by the competent authority.
Canon 979. In asking questions the priest is to act with prudence and discretion, taking into account the condition and the age of the penitent, and he is to refrain from enquiring the name of a partner in sin.
Canon 980. If the confessor is in no doubt about the penitent’s disposition and the penitent asks for absolution, it is not to be denied or delayed.
Canon 981. The confessor is to impose salutary and appropriate penances, in proportion to the kind and number of sins confessed, taking into account, however, the condition of the penitent. The penitent is bound personally to fulfil these penances.
Canon 982. A person who confesses to having falsely denounced to ecclesiastical authority a confessor innocent of the crime of solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, is not to be absolved unless that person has first formally withdrawn the false denunciation and is prepared to make good whatever harm may have been done.
Canon 983. §1 The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.

§2 An interpreter, if there is one, is also obliged to observe this secret, as are all others who in any way whatever have come to a knowledge of sins from a confession.
Canon 984. §1 The confessor is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded.

§2 A person who is in authority may not in any way, for the purpose of external governance, use knowledge about sins which has at any time come to him from the hearing of confession.
Canon 985. The director and assistant director of novices, and the rector of a seminary or of any other institute of education, are not to hear the sacramental confessions of their students resident in the same house, unless in individual instances the students of their own accord request it.
Canon 986. §1 All to whom by virtue of office the care of souls is committed, are bound to provide for the hearing of the confessions of the faithful entrusted to them, who reasonably request confession, and they are to provide these faithful with an opportunity to make individual confession on days and at times arranged to suit them.

§2 In an urgent necessity, every confessor is bound to hear the confessions of Christ’s faithful, and in danger of death every priest is so obliged.
The Sanctifying Function of the Church » The Sacraments » The Sacrament of Penance » The penitent
Canon 987. In order that the faithful may receive the saving remedy of the sacrament of penance, they must be so disposed that, repudiating the sins they have committed and having the purpose of amending their lives, they turn back to God.
Canon 988. §1 The faithful are bound to confess, in kind and in number, all grave sins committed after baptism, of which after careful examination of conscience they are aware, which have not yet been directly pardoned by the keys of the Church, and which have not been confessed in an individual confession.

§2 The faithful are recommended to confess also venial sins.
Canon 989. All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year.
Canon 990. No one is forbidden to confess through an interpreter, provided however that abuse and scandal are avoided, and without prejudice to the provision of can.
983 §2.
Canon 991. All Christ’s faithful are free to confess their sins to lawfully approved confessors of their own choice, even to one of another rite.
The Sanctifying Function of the Church » The Sacraments » The Sacrament of Penance » Indulgences
Canon 992. An indulgence is the remission in the sight of God of the temporal punishment due for sins, the guilt of which has already been forgiven. A member of
Christ’s faithful who is properly disposed and who fulfils certain specific conditions, may gain an indulgence by the help of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the merits of Christ and the Saints.
Canon 993. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it partially or wholly frees a person from the temporal punishment due for sins.
Canon 994. All members of the faithful can gain indulgences, partial or plenary, for themselves, or they can apply them by way of suffrage to the dead.
Canon 995. §1 Apart from the supreme authority in the Church, only those can grant indulgences to whom this power is either acknowledged in the law, or given by the
Roman Pontiff.

§2 No authority below the Roman Pontiff can give to others the faculty of granting indulgences, unless this authority has been expressly given to the person by the
Apostolic See.
Canon 996. §1 To be capable of gaining indulgences a person must be baptised, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least on the completion of the prescribed work.

§2 To gain them, however, the person who is capable must have at least the intention of gaining them, and must fulfil the prescribed works at the time and in the manner determined by the terms of the grant.
Canon 997. As far as the granting and the use of indulgences is concerned, the other provisions contained in the special laws of the Church must also be observed.

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