I saw a piece at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a request of the Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests to the USCCB’s Pres. Archbp. Kurtz. The Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests have requested:
for sacramental confession and reconciliation
— urge more access through full use of Vatican II rites [Which would mean use of the Extraordinary Form, as it was the Mass in use during Vatican II.]
Sounds pretty good, right? After all, I’m the guy who is constantly shouting “GO TO CONFESSION!”, right?
But there is a problem in this, coming as it does from the Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests (which promotes the ordination of women and lay election of bishops). NB that “full use” of “Vatican II” rites. That is code for General Absolution.
Here’s what the Ass. argues (my emphases):
AUSCP requests expanded opportunities for sacramental confession and reconciliation. The Association has encouraged the Bishops of the United States to request an indult to allow full use of the Rite of Penance, including Rite 3 as part of the pastoral practice of the Church in the United States. Read the letter to USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, HERE. (A slightly adapted copy of this letter was sent to all bishops.) A document providing background and rationale for the request can be found HERE.
Lay people: Avoid General Absolution. Just don’t go.
Fathers: If you are doing this knock it off.
Bishops: Put a stop to this now.
General Absolution (absolution without confession of all mortal sins), or “Form 3”, is to be given in cases of grave necessity, emergencies (e.g., airplane about to crash, earthquake traps people under rubble, listeners in a hospital ward, battle about to begin, etc.).
Canon 961 establishes that a grave necessity exists (outside of the clear case of danger of death) when…
“given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual’s confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of sacramental grace or of Holy Communion for a lengthy period of time.”
All those conditions would need to be present for general absolution to be given licitly.
Telling people to “come back next week” would NOT deprive them of sacramental grace for a “lengthy period of time,” which most manualists – and we like manuals – would say is a month or more.
Furthermore, the Motu proprio of 7 April 2002 Misericordia Dei, 5 clarifies that “judgment as to whether there exists the conditions required by canon 961 is [Note bene] not a matter for the confessor, but for the diocesan bishop who can determine cases of such necessity in light of the criteria agreed upon with other members of the Episcopal Conference.”
The local bishops lay down the conditions. They may vary from place to place.
In Africa, for example, a missionary priest might arrive at a place to find a thousand people waiting. That conference will lay down the proper conditions for the priest. In the USA, these problems don’t exist and the bishops have laid down the conditions.
Also to be abominated is the scheduling of General Absolution, which is as wrong wrong wrong as wrong can be! You cannot reasonably schedule an emergency.
This whole scenario, in addition, underscores another problem.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Confessions are scheduled from 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm, once a week, before a 4:00 pm Saturday Mass. The priest sits, lonely in the confessional, until the first penitent shows up at 3:42. She is immediately followed by 20 people who all want to get their sins shriven before this Mass. When, at 4:03, the priest has to leave the confessional to start Mass late, they are mad… at the priest!
Keeping in mind my 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession, if you have grave sins you must confess, try to get to church for the beginning of confessions, not toward the end of the scheduled time.
Everyone, avoid General Absolution.
You cannot receive General Absolution twice validly, except in danger of death, without having made a regular, auricular confession beforehand.
When you receive General Absolution, licitly or illicitly, you are bound to confess all your mortal sins in the normal manner as soon as you can. If priests are scheduling General Absolution way in advance, blow the whistle on them.
This is a serious abuse of God’s people which has to be stopped.
It occurs to me that not all of you know the three forms.
Form 1 is regular, auricular (“to the ear”) confession, one penitent and one confessor, during which you confess all your mortal sins in kind and number and, most likely, receive absolution.
Form 2 is “communal penance” service which involves a liturgical service, usually involving some Scripture readings, a sermon and/or help with examination of conscience, after while penitents go to confession individually to priests.
Form 3 is “general absolution”, whereby absolution is given to one or more people without any confession of sins. This is done in an emergency or in moments of grave need. Generally diocesan bishops determine the circumstances. However, in case of emergency, such as a disaster, priests can and should just give it.
Happily, regularly scheduled Form 3 has died off in most places. So, the Ass. are obviously living in the past, promoting yet another cliché from the 80’s.
Moderation queue is now ON.