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Dee Ty wrote:

Hi, guys —

I had a very bad Confession experience yesterday and am unsure what to do about it.

To make it easier to understand, here's how our conversation went:

    Me:
    I revealed other's fault several times last week.
    Father:
    Absolves me.
    Me:
    Father, I have a question.
    Father:
    You are not a good listener.
    (I'm assuming he means that he's done with me and I should be leaving.)
    Me:
    I remember something else. I received Holy Communion after committing this sin because I was unsure if it was a mortal sin or not.
    Father:
    Good bye
    Me:
    But I'm not done.
    Father:
    Boy, you don't listen. I said bye.

I left feeling so shocked and sad upon leaving the Confessional. Just thinking about what happened still affects me.

  • Is this something that should be reported?

I just don't want him to be doing this to other penitents who are on the fence about their Catholic faith because experiencing this could quite possibly change their views.

Dee Ty

  { Should what happened to me in the Confessional be reported? }

Mike replied:

Dear Dee,

I am sorry you had to go through that bad experience.

It is sad that some priests are not sensitive to the pastoral needs of their penitents. I also vaguely remember having a Confession similar to what you experienced where the Confessor basically concluded I was being too scrupulous.

If this is the case with you, you should consider finding a spiritual director who is faithful to the Church.

I don’t think this type of behavior should necessarily be reported to the bishop but, for the good of the faithful, you may want to share your experience and how you felt with:

  • a priest-associate
  • the pastor, or
  • a colleague of the Confessor who heard your Confession.

Hopefully, they would be willing to talk to him privately about your bad experience and suggest that he be more sensitive to your needs. The basic form for most Confessions is:

  • Penitent: Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been (period of time) since my last Confession.
    (Then list your sins and wait for any possible counsel.)

  • Priest: Should ask you to say an Act of Contrition, but if not, he will give you a penance followed by absolution.

    (It's not needed but if the Confessor doesn't tell you to say an Act of Contrition, say one privately after Confession.)

After the priest absolves you of your sins, no matter how insensitive the Confessor was during the Confession, you can go in peace, knowing all your sins have been forgiven.

When he says, I absolve you (of your sins.) Jesus is working through the priest to forgive your sins.

To struggling Catholics who have had a similar experience — my two cents:

We all are sinners and scandalize the Church with behavior inside and outside the Confessional. I think it was Jesus who said in front of the adulteress:

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (John 8:7)

I hope this helps,

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Mike,

Your answer was a good one for Dee.

  1. She is absolved.
  2. She should tell the priest’s supervisor that she had an uncomfortable Confession with the priest — but avoid speaking about the specific sins.

The reason she should not use specific sins when she tells the supervisor is that it makes it almost impossible for the supervisor to speak to the priest because the priest is under the seal.

If she just tells the supervisor specifically about his gruff manor and his trying to get rid of her before she was done then the supervisor can correct the behavior without the seal being compromised.

Fr. Jonathan

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