Catholics who are unable to find a Priest are forgiven if they make an act of perfect contrition or sorrow, but such an act supposes at least the intention of going to Confession when the opportunity presents itself. For perfect sorrow supposes the will to do God’s will. Protestants and other non-Catholics can also secure forgiveness by perfect sorrow, if they are not responsible for their ignorance of the law of Christ. For lack of knowledge would be a condition of true sorrow in those who do not comply with the actual law. Such people would go to Confession if they realized the obligation. But who can know that he has such perfect contrition? Perfect contrition implies a hatred of the sin to be forgiven, not from any motive, but because it has offended God. It implies intense sorrow for having committed it; the will to make full reparation of the harm done; and the firm purpose to avoid committing it again. What certainty has one that he possesses such dispositions? Is his sorrow supernatural? Is his conviction of forgiveness merely self-persuasion; a case of the wish being father to the thought? He has no definite and personal revelation that he is forgiven. Catholics who receive sacramental absolution are at least not left in such doubts and anxieties, for even though their sorrow be not as perfect as it should be, the Sacrament itself will supply for certain defects.
Radio Replies Volume 1 by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble MSC and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty