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Andy Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I need to ask a question before I go to Confession otherwise I may worry myself because of the content of one of my sins.

This sin was against my Confessor. It was nothing big and didn't (or won't) cause him any harm. His ability to serve as a priest and Confessor will not be affected. Still, confessing this makes me nervous. I fear that if he knows about this sin then our relationship would be damaged. Even if it wasn't, I would be unable to feel comfortable around him.

  • Would it be permissible to say that the sin was against a person?
  • Or should it at least be mentioned that it was a member of the clergy?

It was in response to something he said in Confession (something I was given). I will be unable to confess to a different priest.

Thanks,

Andy

  { How do I handle confessing a sin against my Confessor when our relationship would be damaged? }

Bob replied:

Dear friend,

If confessing the sin to your Confessor should incur additional harm I would suggest the point of anonymity. He does not need to know unless it is necessary to repair the wrong, which does not sound like the case at hand.

Just say it in reference to someone without implying anything about their identity. Ultimately, God knows and wants you to get it behind you.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Andy replied:

Dear Bob,

Thanks for the reply.

I did remember one thing that may change this. I had mentioned to Protestant relatives about my suspicions about his orthodoxy and the fact that parish issues weren't getting fixed. These were justified but were brought back up because I had become frustrated with my Confessor.

The frustration is where I view the sin is coming from. The suspicion was justified but I feel that
I crossed the line although they will never meet him, outside of brief encounters. If they were to convert, (not that they're thinking about it), I would recommend a different parish. This is due to the RCIA program being a mess. My suspicion is why I don't want him to know I sinned against him.

He has been willing to hear my issues with the RCIA program and is also willing to help with my scrupulosity. I do trust him and feel comfortable around him.

  • So does this change anything?

Thanks.

Andy

Mike replied:

Hi Andy,

You said:
He has been willing to hear my issues with the RCIA program and is also willing to help with my scrupulosity. I do trust him and feel comfortable around him.

  • So does this change anything?

I don't quite understand why you aren't able to address this issue with another priest. No priest can mention anything that is talked about in the Confessional outside of the Confession under pain of excommunication so if you are concerned about gossip issues, don't be.

If you still feel uncomfortable with this, as you suggested, you can say it was a member of the clergy.

What I would remind your Protestant relatives is we are a Church of sinners and of saints; and no matter how bad a RCIA program is or unorthodox a priest is, the Church's teachings will always be true. As my colleague Eric has said in the past, we should join a Church because we believe it is a truth-telling Church on issues of salvation and eternal life, not because:

  • we feel good
  • we feel challenged
  • other non-Catholic Christian congregations have better ministries, or
  • any other reason.

If the parish wasn't very good, you would be obliged to tell them to find another parish but like I've told my nephews and niece, though the priest may be weak and the sermons boring, the weekly key to sanctity is receiving the Eucharist in a state of grace!

If you do :

  • trust him
  • and he is willing to hear your issues out, and
  • if you think you have a sin-related issue with him

I would be honest with him.

I remember one time after receiving absolution, I told my pastor before leaving the Confessional that I was having a hard time forgiving him for his past actions when he first came to our parish.

He just took what I said and gave me some prayer counsel and suggestions.

The key here is having an open heart when you go to Confession because more than my Confessor hearing this, the Lord heard it and for those [sins or problems] we bring to Confession, we get the grace to overcome them.

Again, as we have said in previous answers on Confession questions, as an analogy, a doctor cannot remove the shrapnel from a soldiers leg if the soldier doesn't tell him about it.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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