Assault on the Seal and Creeping Incrementalism

One of the direct assaults of Hell on the Church is the undermining by the state of the Seal of Confession.

At the Italian La Nuova Bussola, there is a report on the disaster in FRANCE over the abuse scandal which has erupted.

The summit meeting between the French Minister of the Interior and the President of the Bishops’ Conference ends with an notice: “Catholic priests must report the allegations of abuse heard in confession”. The priestly vocation is defined as a profession and therefore the secret of Confession a confessional secret. But this is not the case. It is clear that with the excuse of a still wholly ambiguous report in the cases and in the numbers, the assault on the Church has started.  Who replied weakly with a statement in which he defined the position of the minister only “clumsy”.

Catholic priests in France “must report the allegations of abuse heard in confession.” This is the absolute claim of the Minister of the Interior of the French Republic to the President of the Episcopal Conference during the meeting yesterday afternoon at the Ministry of the Interior. For the Minister of the Macron government, nothing can be above the laws of the Republic, not even the command of Jesus of confessional secrecy, as the President of the Catholic Bishops had and reiterated.

There is a lot more.  But it ends….

What is ‘clumsy’ in defending the confessional secret and the command of Jesus? So, will the Church of France yield to Macron’s threats and claims, after thousands of priests perished for refusing the pretensions of Robespierre?

Another sign that the Restrainer is no longer restraining?

In a while it will be illegal for priests to hear confessions without risking jail or worse.

It is a tactic to fulfill a strategy: creeping incrementalism.   They bash away and move the needle one more tick in the direction they want it to go.  Then they back off, having won some more people to their side.  Something else happens and they bash at the bruise that they had made before.  They move a few more into their camp.  They do this again and again until it passing a law – or striking one down? Griswold? Obergefell, anyone?   – seems the normal thing to do.

This is the track they are on.

Read this through a lens of current events: massive government and MSM pressure – pressure? – like a trash-compacting garbage truck on fire barrelling down on you – for the jab.

This pops up: network with sound Catholics and a few priests.  Get things now.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in GO TO CONFESSION, Liberals, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Comments

  1. Fr. Charles A. F. says:

    I think international news make this sound worse than it is. The conversation in France has now shifted to the glaring incompetence of the Minister, since he obviously misquoted an instruction emanating from his own services (n. CRIM 2004-10 ; E1/11-08-2004, NOR : JUSD0430163C, if you want to quote it at someone), saying priests, but also doctors, lawyers etc., have the right, but by no means the duty, to waive the privilege of secrecy in the case of suspected abuse of minors. Others wondered aloud whether the Minister should not tread more lightly in this matter, since he is himself still under investigation for the alleged rape of one of his female staffers!

    As for the claim that “No law is above those of the Republic”; this prompted many wags to inquire whether the Minister had ever heard of the European Union…

  2. Johann says:

    If the state can force priests to break the confessional seal, then they can also force attorneys to break attorney-client privilege and confidentiality, force doctors and psychologists to break doctor-patient confidentiality, and so forth.

  3. BobM says:

    If worse comes to worse regarding the seal of confession regarding the State “requiring” the breaking of the seal – my thought is that a penitent should simply be permitted (by the Church, NOT the Dtate) to confess in words like “I committed a grave mortal sin against the 6th Commandment” and no more. And the priest should simply give penance and absolve him or her. No more details need be shared which would serve to put the priest in the crosshairs of the State. Essentially this wouldn’t be that different than from going to confession to many priests already who conduct their confessionals in kind of a wham-bam fashion with few or no questions of clarification and next to no spiritual advice other than a canned sentence or two before giving absolution.

  4. BobM says:

    If worse comes to worse regarding the seal of confession regarding the State “requiring” the breaking of the seal – my thought is that a penitent should simply be permitted (by the Church, NOT the State) to confess in words like “I committed a grave mortal sin against the 6th Commandment” and no more. And the priest should simply give penance and absolve him or her. No more details need be shared which would serve to put the priest in the crosshairs of the State. Essentially this wouldn’t be that different than from going to confession to many priests already who conduct their confessionals in kind of a wham-bam fashion with few or no questions of clarification and next to no spiritual advice other than a canned sentence or two before giving absolution.

  5. The only way a government can ever enforce a requirement that priests give up child molesters in the confessional is by bugging confessionals and sending in spies to make false confessions. This has already happened in this country: about 25 years ago, an Oregon district attorney had a sacramental confession recorded in a prison. The Church fought a successful legal battle to keep the recorded confession out of court, but, as far as I know, failed in the bid to have the recording destroyed.

  6. Dear Sister Anita,

    I was living in Eugene OR when that happened and knew the priest personally. My old friend, Justice John T. Noonan Jr. of the Ninth Circuit, was on the panel that heard the case. And it was a really weird case.

    The “penitent” was not even baptized. His lawyer put him up to the confession, knowing that the jail recorded all confessions of prisoners heard there. Apparently the man “confessed” that he didn’t do the murder but some of the other drug dealers did.

  7. Bthompson says:

    Also a good argument for screens and anonymous Confessions. Even if a priest (God forbid) wanted to betray a penitent, or a despotic government wanted to compel him, one could not be “court of law” “beyond reasonable doubt” “testify under oath” kind of sure of identity based on a muffled voice through a grill.

  8. Fuerza says:

    To me it seems the obvious solution is to mandate only anonymous confessions except in emergency situations, and to make sure that no one waits within earshot of the confessional. I do wonder sometimes, however, if the Church would be able to implement something similar to what the Armenian Orthodox do. That is, no specific confession, but rather the recitation of a confessional prayer at Mass where the people collectively admit to committing each of the seven deadly sins and violating the commandments. The priest then grants absolution to all at once. From what I understand, this is the common practice in the Armenian Orthodox Church and individual confession is almost unheard of in most parts of the world. I know that the Armenians have valid sacraments, but I don’t know if the Catholic Church has issued an opinion as to whether this practice itself is sufficient to absolve sins outside an emergency, or if the mass incarceration of priests for not violating the seal would constitute such an emergency.

  9. Fr. Augustine, I didn’t know that backstory. But it is still appalling that confessions in the prison were being recorded as a matter of course.

  10. Kent Wendler says:

    My thought is this: Since the priest in the sacrament of penance is acting in persona Christi then the “authorities” should actually be asking not the priest but Jesus Christ what was said.

  11. TRW says:

    Fuerza,
    The Catholic Church only allows general absolution in the case of imminent danger/death. For example, soldiers in a foxhole when the shells start falling.

  12. Fr. Reader says:

    Wondering if this is more about “Fr, I have been abused by a priest…” than “Fr, I accuse myself of having committed such thing…”.

  13. Dear Sister Anita,

    “But it is still appalling . . .” Oh dear. I hope you did not think that I don’t abominate taping!

    Justice Noonan, the “Lion of the Ninth-Circuit Bench” gave the state’s attorney “heck” with devastating wit and sarcasm, brought down the house, and convinced his two “liberal” panel members to write the most damning condemnation of a violation of religious liberty in the history of the Ninth.

    He loved to recount this case and I heard the story many times. John Noonan R.I.P.

  14. Annunciata says:

    I haven’t followed the French case, but trying to force Priests to betray the confession seal is targeting Catholics. Jews, Buddhists, Protestants don’t even have Confessors. Catholics aren’t the only sinners.

  15. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  16. Senor Quixana says:

    Certainly, we cannot take anything short of an absolutist position on the seal.

    Thanks to Fr, Charles A. F. for context.

    I am curious what “command of Jesus” is involved here. While the grant of authority to forgive sins is clear, there is no detail in the gospels, and precious little elsewhere in scripture, for a procedure. Does amyone have an idea what command is being challenged?

  17. Moro says:

    I wish more people would talk about the issue of cell phones in the confessional. If you have a cellphone, it can be used to capture and record your conversations. Same with digital assistants like an Alexa. One of the tech companies that offers these openly admitted to having captured private conversations. This is far far worse than a state mandate which will likely rarely been enforced and which any priest caught in the crosshairs can deny knowing about the specifics of a conversation.

  18. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Moro is right — there’s a problem with folks bringing their devices everywhere. And since a lot of people use their phones and tablets as prayerbooks, and have their examinations of conscience and their scripts for Confession on them, it could be a problem.

    (Also, a lot of confessional areas are _dark_, for good reasons, and it gets harder and harder for an older person to read paper Confession responses in a shadowy place. But OTOH, a phone or tablet can illuminate the confessing person’s face, although it makes reading a lot easier.)

  19. Fuerza says:

    TRW,

    I am aware that it is only allowed in those situations, and then only with the stipulation that the penitent make a full confession if he or she survives. What I am more wondering is if the Church has the theological authority to allow the type of confession as described. In other words, if the Church one day stated that general absolution would be the norm, would it be valid? I’m not saying that this should be done or that it would be a good idea, but if it is even a theological possibility.

Think, proof read, preview BEFORE posting!