An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A person seeking the church's ministry of reconciliation by making a confession to a confessor. The Reconciliation of a Penitent is one of the sacramental rites of the Episcopal Church (BCP, p. 860). Through reconciliation, penitents are restored to full fellowship in the Christian community and may receive “the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution” (BCP, p. 861). The BCP provides two forms for the Reconciliation of a Penitent (pp. 447-452). After the penitent has confessed all serious sins and given evidence of contrition, the priest gives counsel and encouragement and pronounces absolution. Prior to giving absolution, the priest may assign a penance which is to be said or done by the penitent as a sign of penitence and an act of thanksgiving for God's forgiveness (BCP, p. 446). For example, the penitent may be assigned a psalm, prayer, or hymn to say or an act of reparation to make. Sacramental reconciliation is available to all. Confessions may be heard at any appropriate time or place. The secrecy of a confession is morally absolute for the confessor (BCP, p. 446).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.