From a reader:
This past Saturday, I experienced several of the issues you have written about regarding going to confession. Seeing it was getting late in the afternoon, I attempted to go to confession at the parish nearest where I was at the time rather than risk arriving too late to my own parish. The parish I went to begins at 3:45 rather than 4:00 so admittedly I was already a bit late when I arrived but as I learned from one of the 5 people waiting, there had been someone who had taken over half-an-hour.
When the person before me left the confessional, so did the priest saying I was welcome to arrange to come back at another time but that he couldn’t continue with confessions because Mass was ready to start. I asked if he was serving in the Mass because I had already seen a priest vested standing at the back of the church waiting for the entrance hymn to process in. He replied no but that confessions cannot be heard while Mass was going on. I said that yes they could to which he replied not in that parish. Naturally, I was not going to argue the point and left.
Feedback – Was it wrong of me to challenge his assertion that confessions could not be heard during Mass?
Advice – Should I reach out to the priest in any way to follow up? If it makes a difference, he is a young immigrant priest (in US about 5 years) who just completed his 1yr anniversary of ordination.
First, confessions CAN be heard during Mass. The Congregation for Divine Worship has reaffirmed this. I have written about this more than once (HERE for example).
Of course if this young priest is not the pastor (parish priest) then he is not in charge of the schedule. Life could become difficult for him were he to buck the pastor and hear confessions during Mass if the pastor is too thick to get the point. I was once literally screamed at – in the sacristy in front of lay people – by the pastor of a parish I was assigned to because I heard confessions for 5 minutes past the ending time. Life with him was hellish. Thus, you can imagine that an immigrant who is newly ordained is not going to want to bring the world down on his own head even when it is a matter of something that is good.
If you were to follow up, I would preface anything you say to him or give him with something like “I understand that the pastor probably doesn’t want you to do this, but it may be that you didn’t know about this….”