Saturday, 23 November 2013
Silence the priests
Whether Confession is in an old style Confession Booth where the priest does not see the parishioner, or whether it is in a face-to-face situation; there's no doubt that in a number of cases the priest knows full well who is at the other side of the curtain.
This being the case, what is a priest to do when he knows more than what is being said in the Confessional.
Here are some scenarios:
SCENARIO 1 - The priest knows that a married parishioner is having an affair with another woman. This sin is not confessed, and the priest knows that the behavior continues.
Does the priest raise the matter in the Confessional?
Does he give absolution for sins confessed, knowing full well there are others not confessed and not repented over?
By giving absolution, is he making a mockery of the Sacrament of Confession?
By giving absolution, is he condoning the sin; by turning a blind eye to it?
By giving absolution is he being fair and right to the injured party (the wife and children)?
Is it his job to "interfere" or should he just give absolution to the sins confessed and ignore others which he knows about?
SCENARIO 2 - Is the priest influenced by what he hears at Confession? Should he be? Can he NOT be?
He is supposed to "forget" the sins he hears, but is this really possible?
A man confesses that he often steals from his employer. Small things like stationery, ink cartridges, that sort of thing. He also steals from shops - a bar of chocolate every now and then.
The man applies for a job at the church - church secretary, or such like admin job.
Should the priest be influenced by what he heard at Confession?
If he ignores the confessed sin and gives the man the job; and the man subsequently steals from the church; where does the priest stand?
Was he true to God in offering the man the job?
Was he true to the church and his bishop by putting the church at risk?
Should he tell the bishop he knew of the man's habitual sin?
SCENARIO 3 - the priest knows that the man who manages the Sunday collection is stealing from the plate. He has hard evidence of this.
No doubt he has a duty to raise the matter with the individual in order to protect church funds.
The man is repentant and confesses this in discussion, and again, subsequently at Confession. He is absolved of his sins.
To keep him away from temptation he stops dealing with the Sunday collection.
The man applies for a job and asks the priest for a reference.
Does the priest mention the collection wrong-doing in the reference he is to write?
If he does not, is he being truthful to the potential employer, and in the eyes of God?
If he does not mention the man's bad behavior, and the man gets the job, and is caught stealing, and it is discovered that the priest knew of this habitual practice when he wrote the reference; where does the priest stand in the eyes of God?
Just three scenarios for now. No doubt you can think of others.
I'd welcome your views.