(1) Missionaries of Mercy reconfirmed: New list of faculties…

pope francis confession

The decree itself is spectacularly elegant with raised seal and all. The accompanying letter lists the particular sins reserved to the Holy See but which may be absolved by the Missionary of Mercy. These differ slightly but importantly from the original list.

Here’s the original list:

  1. profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose;
  2. use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff;
  3. absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue;
  4. a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

The second list, valid now and into the future indefinitely is as follows. It repeats more or less verbatim the list of four, but then adds a fifth, expanding on the fourth:

  1. Profanation of the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose.
  2. Use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff.
  3. Absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment.
  4. Direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.
  5. [1] The recording by means of a technical device of what the priest or the penitent says in a Sacramental Confession (whether real or simulated), or [2] the divulgation of such a recording through the means of social communication. (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Decretum de sacramenti Paenitentiae dignitate tuenda, 23 September 1988 (AAS 80 [1988] 1367).

This last, new addition, is double-barreled. The conjunction “or” is rather significant. The mere recording without any divulgation is already enough to commit a sin reserved to the Holy See for absolution (and now the Missionaries of Mercy). A person who comes across such a recording but did not make it, but does make the divulgation is also committing a sin reserved for absolution to the Holy See or to a Missionary of Mercy. Of course, these two actions usually go hand in hand, committing the first so as to commit the second. Thus:

I could easily see a bitter Catholic media personality with an ax to grind against the Church going to real Sacramental Confession and confessing real sins which everyone knows about but which are considered and proclaimed to the whole world not to be sins by the impenitent “penitent” journalist, so that he is just baiting the priest to say whatever, so that he, the journalist, has something to rant about on the radio or on television or in the newspapers or internet, using the confession, whatever direction it goes, as fodder making the Church the butt of jokes during the morning commute. This is actually a problem in France, where such nauseating cowardice is a national pass time. Of course, the sins need not be real to incur the wrath of God and the need for absolution lest one risk going straight to hell. Fake sins don’t make the mockery any less incisive.

But what of the case of someone who is just a bit slow in understanding, and makes a real recording of a real confession to a priest who is his hero as that priest has helped him so very much, making the recording for his poor memory and only for his own edification, not divulging it? Take that same recording of that same person and say that he then put it up online because he wants to share his joy with the world for the edification of all? Actually, he needs to confession for the first and then also the second if he does that too.

And then what about the person who fakes like he has a recording of what was, in fact, a Sacramental Confession? He lies about it, saying that he has a real recording, and makes up content, using it for blackmail and extortion. That’s falls under this rubric as well. I can see it now, lawyers and accusers looking for easy settlements from bishops who just might throw money at anyone and everyone who says that they don’t like the advice they got in confession. The bishop or anyone connected with him cannot ask to hear the recording and so don’t know if it’s real or not. The priest can’t defend himself in any way. It would never make it to court, but this would basically re-bankrupt the Church, with the lawyers and accusers saying that the church is mocking the victims by excommunicating them with their evidence, bullying them. They would then get settlement money, you know, to make it go away even while priests are once again thrown out of ministry for life.

2 Comments

Filed under Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

2 responses to “(1) Missionaries of Mercy reconfirmed: New list of faculties…

  1. pelerin

    On the subject of both Confession and Mercy there is a beautiful little film on You Tube simply called ‘The Confession’ which received the Best Short Film award at the International Catholic Film Festival in the Year of Mercy. I had not even heard of this Festival and only yesterday came across the film quite by chance which moved me to tears well before the end.

    The film poses an interesting question as to whether the character of the Priest was right or wrong in how he showed his mercy in this particular case.
    The comments are divided on this. I would be interested to know the opinion of a Missionary of Mercy.

  2. Father George David Byers

    Do you have a link?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s