QUAERITUR: To whom should I write?

From a reader:

I’m just returning from a confession where the priest used the words “He absolves” instead of “I absolve.” The priest was a Benedictine who
is the pastor of a Diocesan parish. So do I write to the bishop, whose parish it was, or the Abbot of the priest’s community. We have a good bishop here, who would understand the seriousness of this, especially when it’s his flock who pays the price. But I have less confidence writing the priest’s Abbot would bring any results. What’s the proper protocol? I have a letter to the bishop typed up, and I’ll probably wait for your response before I drop it in the mail.

If you have a concern about the validity of the administration of a sacrament in a concrete situation, you have the right – and perhaps obligation – to to write to the local bishop or to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If you want to write, in my humble opinion, you should first write to the local bishop.  Keep copies of everything.

Remember: since this concerns the Sacrament of Penance, the priest is bound by the Seal. He cannot confirm or deny anything about what happened. That doesn’t mean that the local bishop could not have a one way conversation with the priest, or the pastor of the parish, reaffirming what the proper form of the sacrament is.

Finally, consider also this: there has been a lot of confusion in the formation of priests over the last decades. Don’t be harsh in your letter. Relate only FACTS.

Check my tips for writing to ecclesiastical authorities.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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