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In Case of Emergency, Can We Hear Someone's Confession?

Q. In case of emergency (with death imminent), can we can listen to someone’s confession and forgive his or her sins?

A. No — only a priest has the power to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Confession. If a person in danger of death wants his sins forgiven and no priest is available, it is sufficient for that person to make a perfect act of contrition. In that case, we must trust that the Lord will not deny His mercy, grace, or forgiveness to the person who is dying. If the person insists on confessing his sins to you, politely dissuade him and encourage him to tell them directly to God and have confidence in His mercy. You can help the person by reciting an act of contrition together. However, if the dying person reveals his sins to you, you have the moral obligation to keep them secret.

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