From a reader…
The reformed Rite of Penance added a whole bunch of stuff to the rite of confession—optional Scripture readings and so on—but I have never seen any of it used, even non-optional parts like how the priest should supposedly say “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” to me at the end. The only real difference in the old and new rite of penance seems to be in the words of absolution, and even at this point lots of priests seem to just say whatever they want anyway. [Idiots.]
I wonder: do you think there is anything in practice preventing a traditional-minded priest from unilaterally making every confession an Extraordinary Form confession?
Provided the priest has faculties to absolve, the priest can use the traditional form of absolution validly.
Is there something that might prevent him in practice? If I stretch my imagination, I guess I could come up with something.
Perhaps were people suddenly to hear a different formula, a different language, some of them might be momentarily confused for a bit or puzzled. Some might not immediately get the Latin.
However, if they are in the confessional, they are probably going to accept the Latin and the traditional form happily, especially if the priest says ahead of time that he is going to use the traditional form.
In all my years of absolving penitents – in Latin – I’ve never had a single person react badly. Once in a while if I might tell a convert or revert or someone whom I suspect isn’t all that well-formed, what’ll happen so they aren’t surprised. The confessional isn’t a place for big surprises.
I think that, when it comes right down to it, people are a) enormously relieved once they’ve made their confession and b) eager to receive validly absolution.
If Father starts rambling away or adding stuff or changing the form of absolution around… how does that put the penitent at ease?
But, if Father starts up in LATIN, the penitent is probably going to think that she’s getting The Genuine Article™.
However, Father should make sure through catechesis that everyone can rest assured that the newer form is valid. By switching to the older form, he isn’t calling into question the validity of the newer form, in Latin or in the vernacular.
When it comes to the confessional, Father needs to avoid doing something weird. Hence, he should let people in on what he is doing. If he does that, I suspect that everything will be okay as far as the penitents are concerned.