From a reader…
I recently made a confession (of mortal sins) where the priest used the full absolution formula, EXCEPT, he said “I absolve you OF your sins” instead of “I absolve you FROM your sins.”
Do I need to redo this confession? Last year’s story of the priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who found out he was never validly baptized because the deacon said “WE baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” has me concerned.
Be at ease.
The official English translation of the core of the form of absolution is: “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father +, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
That said, there is not a huge gap of meaning between “I absolve you of…” and “I absolve you from…”. The difference in meaning is NOT enough to invalidate the absolution.
In short, Father is getting it wrong, but not so severely wrong that it invalidates the absolution.
You might politely ask him about it, but not in a confrontational way. He might not even realize that he is getting is slightly wrong. If he has the true heart of a priest, he will be glad to know what the correct wording is and will make a change. If this is all about him, he won’t appreciate the information.
There are some jackass priests out there who really screw around with the forms of sacraments.
If you confess to a priest who regularly does something really dodgy with the form of absolution, I would politely bring it up.
People are within their rights to have the form of absolution spoken as it is in the book. If it really bothers you, or if you ever hear something that you are pretty sure is too far off base to be admissable, ask the priest to give you absolution with the proper form. Do not be nasty or aggressive about this.
If that doesn’t help, talk to the pastor of the parish and/or the local bishop.
Remember that the priest himself cannot talk about the confession because he is bound by the Seal. Therefore, you can politely inform the the bishop about your experience of the form of absolution. You would have to include that you have been to this priest several times and that he has always done the same thing. Do not run him down. Do not add lots of observations. Do not try to teach the bishop his job or theology.
Ideally, the bishop (or pastor) would then have a chat with the priest during which the priest would be informed that word had come that he isn’t using the proper form of absolution and, if true, that should be corrected – lest in the future he receive in spades the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing.
If that doesn’t produce results, send a copy of your correspondence to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (not Divine Worship) and seek a clarification.
Fathers! Don’t fool around with the words of absolution or of any other sacrament Remember what happened when men screwed around with the form of baptism! At the minimum about are being anxiogenic! It may be that you have slipped into some variant and, over the years, don’t even realize you are doing it. REVIEW. This is the nuts and bolts of our work! And it isn’t even that hard!
As for the rest of you…
GO TO CONFESSION!
That decision of the CDF about the form of baptism is not without its critics. However, “We” could be a substantive change to the form of the sacrament.