Thursday, July 17, 2014


I was thinking some more about the topic of yesterday’s post and whereas the points made yesterday may have some impact for society at large, there is another factor that is of particular concern for Catholics.  There was a time when the state and the Church were more united and at a time (as we still do today) when state executions took place.  One of the most grave punishments was to be executed without benefit of confession.  The (faulty) theory was that not only would you be separated from the community and be punished in this life, you would be separated from the communion of saints and punished in the next.  The consequences for the crime would be eternal.


Side note:  Of course there are some faulty points in this theory.  The persons so mentioned were being denied confession, they were not avoiding it.  God Who is so powerful and merciful that He can work through His sacraments can also work outside of them in necessity.  So if there was a person who was sincerely repentant and desired greatly to go to confession but the powers that be denied him access to the sacrament out of a sense of justice, do you really think God would then punish the truly repentant person for all eternity for something outside his power?
But what if we change the scenario a bit?  Let’s say the person who committed a crime has no intention of confessing his or her sin.  The person has great opportunities to go to confession, to be forgiven, but chooses not to.  What then?  “I know I can be forgiven and I have opportunity, but I choose not to.”
So revisiting yesterday, let’s say we start breaking the seal for very good reasons.  For certain crimes, Rome starts giving permission for priests to report to the authorities what was said.  (It won’t happen, but what if?)  Aside from what was talked about yesterday, it would also mean persons most in need of confession would stop coming.  They have access, but choose not to make things right with God.  So now, not only will they not speak with a person who might press them to make things right in this world, they will also not speak with the person who will help them make things right in the next.


Anonymous said...

I would be very hesitant to confess if I knew the priest could go and either blab about what I confessed, or feel like he was compelled to break the seal.

Mine are general, not specific, so I am not sure what they would/could gather from them.

I ran into a predicament with the iConfess app. Even tho others saw what I had selected, it wasn't specific. I suppose if the priest needed details, then it could get detailed.


Anonymous said...

I admit I don't know what the answer to all this is, but I did think that we need to flesh this whole case out.

1. If she was the victim of child molestation, and the alleged perpetrator was a member of the priest's church (and he has since died), why did she go to confession in the first place? After all she was the victim.

2. Why didn't the priest do something outside of the confessional about this?

3. Keep in mind that the original perpetrator is dead, and this case is about he priest testifying in a lawsuit against him and the diocese for the handling of the case in the first place.

It's a mess, I'll admit.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I will give you my personal opinions on some of the whys etc.
1. A child, or adult for that matter, may confess to something that isn't a sin because they feel dirty and guilty. They want that feeling gone. A child also might be looking for a safe place to talk, test the water so to speak.
2. Although a priest is a mandatory reporter, if he learned of something in the confession, he can not break the seal to report, ask about it etc. I hope FrV will jump in if I get this next wrong, but I was told that after the confession and before absolution, a priest could ask the penitent to please see him later, outside of confession to talk about it so he can help. That way he could do something about it, report.


Fernando Benitez said...

I think attorneys have a similar situation with ''attorney/client" privilege and people have a harder time even considering this privilege be broken. Can we use this in our defense, or is this getting too close to secular law running the church?