From a reader…
At a local youth rally, the kids were told to confess one of their sin in the confessional. There were multiple priests present along with the bishop.
Are their sins forgiven?
First, if that recounting is accurate, telling people to confession only one sin is WRONG WRONG WRONG!
The bishop present ought to have immediately gone to the microphone to correct that.
I can’t say for sure what God did in regard to what these kids confessed. God gave the Church the ordinary means for the forgiveness of our sins, provided we do what the Church requires. Outside of doing what the Church requires… we get into swampy terrain.
Every sacrament has both form and matter. The form of the Sacrament of Penance is the absolution spoken by a priest with faculties from the Church to absolve. The matter is the telling of sins, all mortal sins, to the best of one’s ability.
If a person deliberately hides known mortal sins during confession, then she is not forgiven.
This situation, however, is complicated by the fact that the kids were told to confess only one sin.
It is entirely possible that these young people have never been properly trained or catechized. Thus, they might do in good faith what they were told, not knowing that it was wrong. What God does with that… I don’t know.
The way to deal with long lines is not to compromise the sacrament! To keep things moving teach people what to confess and how to confess!
So, I don’t know for sure if they were absolved of their sins or not. I suspect not, not in any regular way. I can’t speculate much about what God might grant to them.
The Sacrament of Penance must not be compromised in this way. Priests should never leave people wondering whether or not their sins were absolved. That is why they must teach people to confess all mortal sins both in kind and in number, to confess everything, and to exclude nothing of mortal sins. Then priests must must must use the proper form of absolution as the Church has given it, not making it up, not personalizing it, not elaborating on it.
Just say the black words and do what the red letters say.