I must correct something I read in the UK’s The Telegraph.
In an article on the recent open day with the Sacra Penitenzieria Apostolica, which handles issues of the internal forum, indulgences, etc., the Telegraph article said.. [my emphases and comments].
The Apostolic Penitentiary, or "tribunal of conscience", has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and until now has never provided details of the cases it scrutinises.
They [the "cases" apparently] are considered so heinous [It seems as if the writer is trying to set up something that sounds ridiculous to the average reader by using such a strong word…] by the Catholic Church that only the Pope can grant absolution to those who perpetrate them. ["perpetrating" is worse than "sinning" these days…]
While priests and bishops can deal with confessions of sins as grave as murder or even genocide, the tribunal is reserved for crimes which are viewed by the Church as even more serious. [… and here it comes…. and won’t the Church seem silly once you get to the punch line…]
They include attempting to assassinate the Pope, a priest abusing the confidentiality of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who admitted to it, or a priest who has sex with someone and then offers forgiveness for the act.
A third type of case that comes before the tribunal involves a man who directly participates in an abortion – even by paying for it – who then seeks to become a priest or deacon. …
What is going on here?
The writer is trying to say, I think, that the silly old Church is so self-important that she thinks that trying to belt the Pope or violate the Eucharist is more serious than genocide. And no one really thinks abortion is so bad. Therefore….
Let’s try to understand what the Church is really doing by saying that some sins are so grave that only the Holy See can lift the censures they incur.
The idea is this:
Some sins strike at the very heart of who and what the Church is.
The role of Peter in the Church is so important for the life and nature of the Church that there is a special gravity in sins having to do with harming the person or name of the Roman Pontiff.
The sacrament of Penance and the Seal of Confession is so important for the life of the Church that there is a special gravity when priests break it.
The sacrament of Penance and the ministerial priesthood which exercises forgiveness of sins are so important to the life of the Church that special penalties are imposed on priests who harm the faithful by attempting to absolve accomplices in sins against the Sixth Commandment.
Some sins strike at the very nature of the Church. Therefore the Church requires that extra steps be taken in being reconciled with the Church after committing those sins.
This does not mean that the Church thinks that genocide is less "serious" than violating the Eucharist (although sins that offend GOD directly are graver in nature than those that offend man). Of course the Church thinks genocide is serious!
The point is that some sins receive special attention because of how they harm the Church, which is the means through which Christ desires that all people be saved.