New layers of stupid emerge during COVID-1984: violation of anonymity of penitents seeking Confession

COVID-1984 Melodrammavirus is bringing out new layers of stupid, hitherto theorized, but not yet experienced.

On Fakebook I saw:

Really?

Now I read this at Stream:

I Went to Confession. Was Asked to Give My Name for Contact Tracing. I Refused. You Wouldn’t Believe the Grief I’ve Gotten

By JENNIFER HARTLINE

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” — St. Augustine

I had an unsettling experience this weekend when I attempted to go to Confession at a local church. I described it in a short Facebook post because I believe it is important that we realize what’s happening, or what likely will happen in parishes around the country.

Briefly, here’s what happened. Waiting at the open church door was a masked woman holding a clipboard. She said hello and asked for my full name. I replied that I only wanted to go to Confession. She said that she was required to get my full name and contact information for tracing purposes. [“Hi! My name is Karen, and I’m only following orders!”]

I made the decision not to go inside, and I quietly turned around and left. I do not believe it is right nor necessary to require a penitent to give his/her name and contact info in order to go to Confession, and I will not do it. I have exactly zero confidence that all this contact tracing will not be used and abused by the State to take greater control and to further erode religious liberty in our country — not to mention every other form of liberty. (I’m also uncertain how this squares with canon law regarding anonymity in Confession, but I did not raise that issue in my post.)  [More on that, below.]

I did not expect everyone to agree with my takeaway on the situation. There’s plenty of room for differing opinions. There are valid points to be made on many sides.

I was stunned at the heat and viciousness of the responses I got.

Irony, Much?
Complete strangers came out with their verbal knives to get some blood. I was called a total liar by one man who insisted I’d made the entire incident up out of thin air. I lost count of how many people called me selfishly indifferent to the health of others; pridefully obsessed with my own rights; lacking in even an iota of charity for my neighbor and thus, a hypocrite and a terrible Christian; and a dangerous Catholic for “misrepresenting the faith and the rules about the sacraments.”

I was inciting “rotten fruit” with my public “tantrum” and refusing the grace of God because it didn’t come on my terms.

More than a few folks flat out accused me of idolatry. Yes, it seems I idolize my freedom and privacy above all else. Mine is a “spirit of insubordination” and my values “have nothing to do with faith.”

One woman decided it was her place to chastise me that when I finally make it to Confession, I should confess my “massive and selfish indifference to the health and safety of others” and then added, “If you can’t be bothered to make minor sacrifices for the lives of others — ask yourself, is it sloth, greed or gluttony you need to confess?”

Remember, these responses came from other Christians, all in the name of charity.

[…]

The combination of anonymity, safety with distance, and that unbeatable combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes libs – yes, and some conservatives, too (but mostly libs) – so amazing.

The writer is right about Canon Law and the violation of her anonymity.

I assume that this policy, implemented by the priest, the confessor, would violate can.964 §2, which is as much about anonymity as it is about protecting the priest from false accusations:

The conference of bishops is to establish norms regarding the confessional; it is to take care, however, that there are always confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely.

This canon is as much about protecting the anonymity of the penitent as well as protecting the confessor from false accusations.

The pastor is responsible for that parish. He must ensure the proper administration of the sacraments.  Proper administration of the Sacrament of Penance also involves providing for anonymous confessions.

This raises questions, therefore, also for 24/7 security cameras that might be in a church and which would also cover the line of penitents and the entrance to the confessional.

In any event, friends,…

GO TO CONFESSION!

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33 Responses to New layers of stupid emerge during COVID-1984: violation of anonymity of penitents seeking Confession

  1. Anneliese says:

    I believe this virus is real and is fatal to a certain population. I’m not saying we should just let people become ill without offering medical care or without offering some type of plan to help deal with the situation. We are still expected to be responsible and watch out for each other. And it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of the unknown and uncertainty. However, we continue to allow fear to rule our lives rather than faith or reason. Everybody keeps thinking they’re entitled to either not get sick or to not die or to not even get old. It took a long time for me to accept this over the course of 40 decades, but our lives are not our own. We’re given the freedom to cooperate but God is fully in charge and we are entirely dependent on his mercy.

  2. The author of the Stream article says: I lost count of how many people called me selfishly indifferent to the health of others; pridefully obsessed with my own rights; lacking in even an iota of charity for my neighbor and thus, a hypocrite and a terrible Christian; and a dangerous Catholic for “misrepresenting the faith and the rules about the sacraments.”

    “Pridefully obsessed with my own rights.” This is always one of the first arrows out of the liberal quiver (along with “Don’t be judgmental!”) anytime someone resists the infringement of legitimate rights to do things liberals don’t like, like receiving Communion on the tongue or going to confession anonymously. And this is from people who run around insisting on non-existent “rights,” like the “right” of women to be priests, or the “right” of remarried divorcees to be admitted to Communion!

  3. Joy1985 says:

    OK I get what the OP is saying- she did what she had to do. But seriously it doesn’t bother me one bit to give my name if it I get to go to Confession and be forgiven of my sins. I go face to face 99.9% of the time. How many people are hurting in a major way because they have no Confession available to them and haven’t for a couple of months.

    I agree with Anneliese. ” However, we continue to allow fear to rule our lives rather than faith or reason. Everybody keeps thinking they’re entitled to either not get sick or to not die or to not even get old. ”

    It will all be ok. This too shall pass. There are worse things in life then being asked your name before going to Confession.

  4. L. says:

    When I was in college our university parish got a young, new priest who did not inspire confidence. The parish had eschewed the confessionals and had turned a room into a “reconciliation room.” The new Priest was hearing confessions one Saturday afternoon. I was waiting for the people who got there before me to go in, and I guess someone was confused and the Priest was alone, so he leaned out beyond the thin hanging curtain, looked out the door, looked at all of us, and waved. I left.
    The downtown “old” parish in my hometown has also turned a closet in the back of the church into a reconciliation room. The door hangs on the hinges, so if you have a penitent who talks too loud anyone sitting in the first “waiting chair” can hear what’s said. There is also what has to be a small camera pointed toward the waiting area. I don’t what it’s there for or whether anyone watches it but having it there is wrong.
    Our parish Priest is now hearing confessions in the Sacristy for “social distancing” purposes, because, I guess, the very large reconciliation room just won’t do. It may be that the threat of physical touching in the reconciliation room is serious enough to warrant the move, but is not serious enough to use the confessional which totally separates Priest and Penitent. I don’t know how the Sacristy is set up, and don’t want to know. The Sacristy is the only place I’ve ever had a face-to-face confession. I had attended a Parish Penance service and a visiting Priest was in the Sacristy. I had assumed, stupidly, that there would be a screen or something, but there were only two folding chairs, one facing the other.
    If the lady who would not give her name on the way to confession (and I’m now thinking about whether it would have been sinful to give a fake name) had given a name and gone in, it seems likely she would have encountered even more “irregularities.”

  5. ArthurH says:

    Our parish has confessions twice a week and has had them for many weeks, from quite near the start. There are certain “practices” that are followed: There is a screen (fine with me) and the priest is the required safe-distance from the penitent, and since the location of confession (the Church basement meeting hall) protects privacy by having one penitent come down stairs after one has come up there is no chance of anyone overhearing.

    AND, though we have such ID’ing for MASS attendance limited to 25 total participants (incl the priest) as required by the Governor, there is no such thing for confession: None required, none sought.

  6. Mike_in_Kenner says:

    Joy1985, just because there are worse abuses that could happen to people does not mean that this abuse should be tolerated as if it’s no big deal.

  7. Fr. Reader says:

    Can this information be used against a priest in court?
    “I went to confession on that day and this happened…”

  8. SundaySilence says:

    How many local municipalities would allow this to continue if we gave the mayor’s address and phone number (or, Cardinal’s/Bishop’s) as our contact info?
    My name? “Roseanne Roseannadanna”.
    This breach of our God given rights has to stop, and apparently we will need to take action ourselves.

  9. Joy1985 says: It will all be ok. This too shall pass. There are worse things in life then being asked your name before going to Confession.

    Let’s not forget that incrementalism is a huge tool of the enemy and his minions.

  10. Fr PJM says:

    You are over 400 years old? What vitamins are you taking? As the Polish sing and say: may you live a thousand years! God bless you!

  11. iamlucky13 says:

    I’ve watched what Ms. Hartline describes play out all too often. I’m speaking of the abuse by people who assume the worst of others, not the violation of anonymity. There has been a fair amount of discussion in psychology about why the internet in particular seems to cultivate it.

    I’ve seen it coming from conservatives as well as liberals, and the orthodox as well as the heterodox. I definitely agree with Father that there is a significant bias in which groups are more prone to it, but we all face the temptation to be uncharitable, and we all fail in it to varying degrees. I certainly know of times I have failed in basic charity to others due to differing views.

    Furthermore, it is virulent. An apologist I used to follow would constantly receive it from both sides (being doctrinally orthodox, but economically rather liberal). Over time, it gradually, but significantly changed him. The apologetics and careful logic in his writing decreased; the rants and the snap judgements increased, and I found the anger rubbing off on me when I read his site. First, the commenters arguing about what he wrote in his articles made me angry. As those arguments affected him, his articles themselves started making me angry. I had to quit reading his site for the sake of my own temperance. I guess you could say I’m quarantining myself from a near occasion of sin.

    As to confession – I am willing to accept that level of compromised anonymity regarding the fact that I went confession (which is, of course, distinct from the content of what I confessed), but I agree that it is unjustified and deeply frustrating. It particularly worries me due to the incremental erosion it represents, as Anita Moore also observed.

  12. matt from az says:

    I would have told Contact Tracing Karen that my name is Elwood Blues and I live at 1060 West Addison St, Chicago.
    It fooled the Illinois Nazis.

  13. Markus says:

    Our “catholic” governor released new guidelines for social gathering last week. It “allowed” retail establishments to open at 25% capacity. Places of “worship” at 10%. It was to go into effect in two days, a Friday. By Thursday, the press release was changed to 25% for churches. Nice try, a liberal attempt to limit “believers” as they call church attendees. No mention of the change in the press. No comments from “church leaders.”
    I have been thinking about something that has been in the back of my mind for the last 40 years. It started with the “bag phone” went to the “brick” and has progressed to the “X phone.” The new iOS (13.5) and Android updates contain tracking software for “medical” research. Not mentioned in the update descriptions, just give your permission. Almost every online transaction, today, requires a phone number including government forms. 61.5% of the world’s population own/use cell phones. Operating systems of computers now want you to link your cell phone number to their software of which most are cloud based.
    Is your cell number the mark of the devil?
    Interesting.
    As far as confession goes, if you carry your phone you are being tracked anyway. “Location services.”

  14. JesusFreak84 says:

    Cardinal Cupich is one of those demanding that parishes collect “contact tracing” information on everyone. I suspect that the parish I attend when with my parents in that Archdiocese will remain closed until such requirements are lifted… With his ban of any use of the confessional, they don’t have the physical facilities to comply with his requirements to offer Confessions anyway ?

    There was a row about this on Twitter recently and I believe Dr. Peters said this wasn’t a *technical* violation of the actual *letter* of the law regarding the Seal. My personal opinion is that it so invites actual violations of Canon Law and the Seal of Confession that it’s, at best, equivalent to an occasion of sin, which we’re required to avoid as much as the actual sin itself.

    The writer above is also more than justified in her distrust of the State misusing such information. Michigan’s Governor-Empress literally tried to have a DNC data company manage Michigan’s contact tracing information, for goodness’ sake!

    If I go to Confession and they present me with a clipboard, I will either walk out or write down Gov. Whitmer’s contact info.

  15. poohbear says:

    I think the bigger issue here is where that list of names is going. I don’t care if everyone in the parish knows I went to confession, but I do care if a stranger has my address, and I do care if some government goon shows up at my door in two weeks to force me to be tested for a virus with a 99% recovery rate because someone else who went to confession that day tested positive. My diocese has resumed Mass, but the state is still requiring limited numbers at gatherings. Mass attendance is by reservation only to guarantee that they don’t go over the limit. Since the Bishop has not removed the dispensation from Mass yet, I won’t be going, for the same reasons I stated above. Hopefully by the time he removes the dispensation the tracking will have stopped, otherwise that’s a big problem.

  16. exNOAAman says:

    “Well, it looks like we had 28 penitents confess this afternoon. Odd, but they all appear to be named John Doe”.
    Quite the coincidence.

  17. Antonin says:

    This business of church’s or anyone else collecting information is a very bad practice. I am sure that it must violate some health privacy laws. I think contact tracing is ok but only IF completely voluntary and based on actual medical necessity. For example, if someone tested positive. There are ways to do this and still maintain civil liberties.

    This is just like after 9-11, the state ends up encroaching on civil liberties (in that case Patriot Act, etc) and the population acquiesced. Now we will see the surveillance state amp up more. Foucault actually described the rise of bio power in Birth of the Clinic.

  18. WGS says:

    All “John Doe”? That is surprising. Where was “Mary” today?

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    Absolutely not. I will not participate in Mass when we are required to wear masks and gloves and use sanitizer when going up for Holy Communion. That insults God, the dignity of the setting, and me as a Christian. I would not, under any circumstances, provide my name to Susan of the Council, nor any other person including the priest, the bishop, the pope. The threat has turned out to be not so much the people who are trying to implement these actions as much as the numbers willing to go along with them. We do not seem to understand history, and threats to freedom. If we are willing to trade freedom for some illusion of “health”, the democratic experiment is over.

  20. Ave Maria says:

    Although I have to wear the mask of subjugation when I go to the grocery store, I am not wearing it at church or other places as I can do so. And mine is rigged so that it is even more useless than the other useless ones. I see little children with these face coverings and people afraid to be close. The pandemic is subsiding as flus do. We are NOT sick! We have been under house arrest for months! This is politics and control and is working very well. It is upsetting to see how well. We are not getting numbers on suicides and other causes of death but with CV19 numbers now so low, attention is once again on shootings. My parish has daily Mass with a parking lot ones on Sundays. About 60 or more daily with seating in every other row. The three largest parishes in the 20 mile radius do not offer Mass!!!! What is wrong with their priests?

  21. ChesterFrank says:

    Confession is the most abused Sacraments by the liberals. Also, I thought contact tracing was done on people who test positive for the virus. It isn’t done on people who might get the virus (that’s everyone) in case someone gets the virus. That’s like collecting the names of every gun owner just in case someone gets shot.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Anonymity is part of the Seal of Confession.

  23. Danteewoo says:

    Kathleen10, you read my mind.

    And I love the phrase: “my public ‘tantrum.’” We need more of those.

  24. Joy1985 says:

    That picture is entirely too sad for words. To treat Our Lord that way. What disrespect. God have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  25. Semper Gumby says:

    An excerpt from journalist Byron York’s 2005 book “The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy” which takes a close look at the “Democrat” Party’s effort to defeat George Bush in 2004:

    In July 2004, in a conference room on the second floor of the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel near Boston Common, Steve Rosenthal [CEO of “America Coming Together,” a 527 Group that accepted money from donors such as George Soros] was explaining what might be called the Palm Pilot theory of voter contact.

    “The system that we’re developing is old as time, but with a modern twist,” Rosenthal told a small group of reporters. ACT had thousands of canvassers spread across the swing states, he explained, and each canvasser was equipped with a Palm Pilot loaded with a software program developed by a pro-Democratic firm called VAN, which stood for Voter Activation Network. When the canvasser turned on the Palm, up popped a list of voters whom ACT wanted the canvasser to visit, a map showing how to get to their homes, and a script of what he or she was to say once he or she arrived.

    Rosenthal sketched out an example of how the system worked. A canvasser knocks on a door and asks a voter which issue concerns him or her most. The voter says the economy. The canvasser asks what it is about the economy that the voter finds most worrisome. The voter says low wages. The canvasser enters all this into the Palm, which already has a full file of commercial and demographic information about the voter. If the voter is a Democrat, the canvasser asks if he’ll help the cause by volunteering to knock on some doors, or at least agree to read some “information” from ACT. If the voter says yes, he then begins to receive a stream of customized mailings and e-mails from ACT, focusing on the key problem facing America today, which is, of course, low wages.

    The canvasser also shows the voter a brief video, which, like everything else, is programmed into the Palm. ACT pre-produced videos on a variety of topics, and the canvasser shows the voter the one closest to his concerns. The video is exactly sixteen seconds long. “We found that people will watch about sixteen seconds,” Rosenthal explained, describing the painstaking research that went into the project.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2007/08/democratic-mega-money-mega-scam-byron-york/

    Using a clipboard it is not difficult to maintain an original list of names and addresses and a copy. It is not difficult to annotate on the copy observations as to the penitents’ emotional state, clothing, make of vehicle, and time spent in the pew after Confession. It’s anyone’s guess as to how often such use of the clipboard may actually occur.

  26. Anneliese says:

    Fr PJM, I secretly found the sorcerer’s stone…
    I realize the typo. 4 decades is the actual answer. When I see posts like this I get fired up and end up making more typos.

  27. khouri says:

    Joy1985, glad you have no problem with giving your name before Confession. You do what you want but dont expect others to agree and follow.
    As a priest, over my imprisoned or disciplined (by a weak bishop) body would I do this in the parish I serve.

  28. khouri says:

    It is time for the lay faithful to speak with their bank accounts and not put up with false shepherds and wimpy bishops. No more $ to diocesan building funds and annual appeals. Give directly to the parish or SVdP. Laity, if you care about the Church act! The priests can’t, bishops like that poor thing in Chicago will crucify priests. Then where would the Church be? Laity, claim your divine and canonical rights do it now!
    ,

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  30. iPadre says:

    Take names. For Mass, or Confessions. Nope. Won’t do it. No way in h**l. This beyond crosses the line. Take me to jail, take me to court. There has already been to much government interference in the 1st Amendment. It’s time to fight back. We have a President who will fight for us. “Give me liberty, or give me death.” – Patrick Henry

  31. Moro says:

    Absolutely ridiculous! I don’t give my name at the grocery store or any other “essential business” like a bank. Why at something that is supposed to be private? If I get sick, I have no problem telling anyone who I was in contact with. But my day to day movements will not be monitored in so far as I can help it.

  32. Moro says:

    On another note, I do not take my cellphone with me to confession. A few years ago a priest spoke on specifically on this and I thought he was nuts…no more. I live in a city where I can walk to confession and leave my phone at home or my office. If I were elsewhere, I’d leave it in my car. There have been far too many private situations picked up by siri, alexa, etc. and listened to by various tech workers. I have no doubt sacramental confessions have been picked up by the phones of both priests and penitents.

    Years ago I started leaving my phone at home when I take walks to detach myself from the phone and to fully enjoy my walk, but now I have even more reason to do so. With or without location services activated, I have no doubt our every move can be tracked. Same could probably be said of most cars.

  33. Moro says:

    On another note, I do not take my cellphone with me to confession. A few years ago a priest spoke on specifically on this and I thought he was nuts…no more. I live in a city where I can walk to confession and leave my phone at home or my office. If I were elsewhere, I’d leave it in my car. There have been far too many private situations picked up by siri, alexa, etc. and listened to by various tech workers. I have no doubt sacramental confessions have been picked up by the phones of both priests and penitents.

    Years ago I started leaving my phone at home when I take walks to detach myself from the phone and to fully enjoy my walk, but now I have even more reason to do so. With or without location services activated, I have no doubt our every move can be tracked. Same could probably be said of most cars.

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