From a reader comes a question about long-distance confession, using telephone or other technology.
I am on the road at the moment and do not have good internet connection at the moment. Same old story, I’m afraid: wifi settings are a mystery to those who use them and the person who set them up … just find him. Anyway…
Absolution by long-distance technology is invalid. Many years ago there was a response given to a question about absolution communicated via telegraph (which shows how long ago it was). Such an absolution would be invalid. Some time later, I don’t have the reference, there was a question about telephone. The answer was the same.
If such a question were submitted today, the answer would be the same. You cannot receive absolution via skype or internet chat or video phone calls, etc. INVALID.
By the way, anyone can confess via phone or by megaphone or by microphone and amplifier with stratocaster accompaniment.
You can confess by long-distance technology, but you cannot receive absolution via long-distance technology. Similarly, you can confess to anyone you desire, but only priests with faculties can forgive your sins through sacramental absolution.
There is a possibility of contracting marriage long distance, or even via proxy, but not any other sacrament. And that is another and more complicated question which we will not delve into here.
There are practical reasons: certainty about the person of the confessor, the penitent, issues of faculties across even continents, security of not being overheard, etc. There are theological reasons: the penitent must accuse himself of sins in the presence of the minister of the Church acting in the person of Christ who is judge, there is the personal nature of the encounter with the Lord who is Mercy itself, etc.
No confession by long-distance. It must be a real, and personal meeting of penitent and confessor.