Q. 1. Can a priest withhold absolution during the Sacrament of Confession? If so, under what circumstances can he do so?
A. 1. Yes, a priest can withhold absolution during the Sacrament of Confession. When a member of the Church goes to confession, he/she is expected to show sincere contrition and a firm purpose to avoid sin in the future. If such is not present, the absolution can be withheld.
If someone committed a crime that is punishable by law, such as the theft of a vehicle, the penitent is not required to confess to the law as a condition of receiving absolution from the priest.
On the other hand, if a person committed a crime where another person is imprisonned for his/her crime, the priest is not required to give absolution to this penitent until such time as the situation has been remedied. In this particular case, the penitent cannot be showing sincere contrition if he/she is going to allow another person to be imprisonned for his actions.