Francis on denying absolution

The other day, Jules Gomes of ChurchMilitant.com (January 13, 2023) recounted some not-first-hand off-script comments by Pope Francis to seminarians from Barcelona at an audience in Rome, included among them his apparent rant against…

  • ≈ f***ing careerists who f*** up the lives of others […] those who climb to show their a** ≈

Well, I would agree with that – and with that language – if the definition of a careerist is Judas Iscariot. Yep. A little rough in the language, but it certainly gets the point across, you know, if it’s put in the context of what it means NOT to be a careerist, one who will bear witness to Jesus in season out of season, over against heretical priests, bishops and even popes, and be happy, in the spirit of the beatitudes, to suffer for it, even with, wait for it… with the end of one’s “career”.

But, let’s move on with apparent Francis “quotes” of sorts:

  • ≈ priests should never deny absolution to penitents in the confessional under any circumstances ≈ // ≈ We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment ≈ // ≈ Priests who deny penitents absolution are delinquents […] criminals ≈

So, let’s imagine a case where yours truly would tell an impenitent “penitent” that any absolution will not so much be denied as it is to be delayed until such time as there is contrition for sin and a firm purpose of amendment to amend one’s life to the end that the grace of absolution might be fruitful in the person’s soul, forgiving the sin and pointing the soul to heaven. Effectively, there’s a denial at the moment, but how you phrase things is important. We want people to be worthy members of the Body of Christ, worthy tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. So, for example… let’s see… I know! …

How about the case of a serial murderer who’s been terrorizing one’s little town with multiple murders of Catholics every day, and he shows up in the Confessional and says that he doesn’t want any absolution for his “ethnic cleansing” of Catholics because he says he is God’s hitman and he will continue to kill Catholics because, he says, all Catholics, young and old, just because they are Catholic, are the eternal enemies of God and need to be eliminated as soon as possible. BUT, he’s also been impatient, he says, with his own lack of efficiency and therefore he’s also used the “f***” word and “a**” word a number of times, and he does want absolution for that. He’s contrite, he says, with a firm purpose of amendment, he says.

Well, I would tell the guy that he needs to have a humble and contrite heart and have a firm purpose of amendment also for his murdering of Catholics and to return to receive the absolution fruitfully as soon as he can. And, of course, I would be shot on the spot right through the confessional screen (yes, we have only those logistics in the confessional) and be a martyr for Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who will Himself come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire.

Look, I wasn’t there at that meeting of Pope Francis with seminarians from Barcelona. I didn’t hear what Pope Francis said first hand. Did he mumble? Miss some words, like “not”? I don’t know. But what I will continue to strive to do in my own priesthood is to follow Jesus, believe in His Holy Name, continue to go Confession myself, and teach others to do the same, you know, in such manner that sanctifying grace provided by the Lamb of God will bear fruit in souls unto eternal life.

Is this just an example of the telephone game?

After Holy Mass people will come up to me and tell me what a great sermon I gave, and then proceed to recount points I never made. What they heard, clearly, was their guardian angels whispering in their ears. I wish I had said those good things. Really brilliant. But I didn’t say it.

I don’t lose my peace over this. As for me, I’ve already seen the wounds of Jesus, knowing that I put those wounds there, my autobiography, as someone put it. The Son of the Living God wants me in heaven. I have received absolution a zillion times. I want to give others absolution in Sacramental Confession. But I want to take them as deadly seriously as did Jesus – see the wounds! – and therefore insist that they also take Jesus deadly seriously, seeing those wounds of His.

Pope Francis knows the truth of it. He can deal with it one way or the other.

© 2023 Fr George David Byers

5 Comments

Filed under Confession, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

5 responses to “Francis on denying absolution

  1. nancyv

    Father, I am telling ya, you are a priest forever… today’s readings (Hebrews 7)! and how you remind us to be charitable, like Nathan- ha. I can’t even write a complete sentence, being dumbfounded by your writings. And what I am most thankful for is that you are persona Christi in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Everything else is secondary.
    if this is too gushy, don’t print.

    • Father George David Byers

      The readings also say: The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

  2. Aussie Mum

    Pope Francis is clever. He is not trying to convince us that sin is not a problem; rather, he is saying that the Church can make the worry of living in sin go away. In other words, one can go on sinning with gay abandon (a dated term, I know, but I am 72) and still be forgiven as long as one goes through the Church – the confessional turned into an office for the licensing of sin without regret or amendment of life.
    An institution licensing sin cannot, in good conscience, be called the Church but rather a demonic counterfeit helping people to hell. However, those imagining they can have their cake (sin) and eat it too (not repent and not go to hell when they die) must necessarily reject truth and suppress their consciences. It is a process, we are told, by those who are in the know. These “enlightened” ones – Pope Francis, Austen Ivereigh et al – are speaking with the confidence of men who understand that process, presumably having themselves passed through this tried and true (false/fanciful) path and thus achieved a dead conscience, or else they have created the process from scratch because … (?).
    Whatever the aetiology of the process, it seems that Pope Francis and his team are trying to implement such a nightmare through the Synod on Synodality, calling such a dream and with imaginings we can all latch on to if we try. The song “Imagine” comes to mind (imagine … no hell … all the people living for today …).
    https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/3403160/John+Lennon
    The Synod on Synodality’s shorter preparatory document (2021) which guides the 2022 “Working Document for the Continental Stage” (DCS) states:
    “The ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions … depends largely on the decision to initiate processes … in which each and every person can participate and contribute.”
    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2023/01/21/dialoguing-with-the-most-incoherent-document-ever-sent-out-from-rome/
    Austen Ivereigh who helped write the synodal document explains:
    “Process, after all, is the point of a synod on synodality … Hence the dream in the report from religious superiors of ‘a global and synodal church that lives unity in diversity’ and that adds, ‘God is preparing something new, and we must collaborate.’ ”
    See para 2 under the heading “A big-tent church” at the link below.
    https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/10/27/frascati-document-synod-synodality-244031

    No we must not collaborate with Pope Francis and his friends dreaming a new global, synodal church into existence and imagining it the universal Catholic Church.

    • sanfelipe007

      ‘God is preparing something new, and we must collaborate.’ ”
      What I read:”We are preparing something new, and you must collaborate.”
      What. A. Crock. It is not of the deposit of Faith but of a different “deposit.”
      I’ve said as much before, but bears repeating.

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