ASK FATHER: Francis said priests must NEVER deny absolution. True? Wherein Fr. Z rants.

I’m getting a lot of questions about something that Francis said to seminarians from Barcelona.  Story at the Catholic Herald HERE.

As the tale goes, Francis delivered profanity-studded “off the cuff” remarks to seminarians, including “not to be clerical, to forgive everything”, adding that … and this is the really sore point… “if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all”.

We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment,” Francis reportedly told the seminarians, who were accompanied by the Auxiliary Bishop Javier Vilanova Pellisa of Barcelona.

Priests who deny penitents absolution are “delinquents”, the Pontiff said, according to the Church Militant website.

No.

We cannot agree with that.

Firstly, denial of absolution is more than likely, really more than likely, quite rare.

If it is clear that there is no intention to stop the sin which has been admitted to and confessed as a sin , a confessor has no choice but to deny absolution.  If he gives absolution to someone who has either a) no sorrow for  sin or b) no intention to stop a sin, then he would be simulating a sacrament.  He would knowingly be giving an absolution that was invalid.  That’s simulation of a sacrament.  The Seal would still apply, because it would be internal forum.  Simulation of a sacrament is punishable with censures.

One could turn the sock inside out and say that, “Priests who don’t deny absolution when it is clear that they ought to are the delinquents”.

Let’s be clear.  Denial of absolution and then saying, “Get out and don’t come back until you’re are sorry!” is NOT what I am talking about.

Is that the sort of priest Francis thinks is is sitting in confessionals?  If so, that would be another implicit insult of the already thoroughly bludgeoned rank and file priest.  Also, I wonder if this doesn’t have something to do with Amoris laetitia  and the infamous footnote #351.

Denial of absolution would have to be carefully and gently explained also with a sincere expression of hope that the (im)penitent will reconsider and with an invitation to return.  The confessor has to let that (im)penitent know that she can and should come back.

Perhaps it could be good to offer to talk to the person outside of the confessional, but still confidentially.

This sort of situation, which is rare but which can happen, underscores the need for good formation of priests in moral theology and the ability to explain why something is sinful.  It could be that the (im)penitent has been told falsehoods by priests or other Catholics about the sinfulness of some actions.  Through no fault of their own they are confused.

The flip side of that coin is the ability to explain how something a person is anxious about is not a sin and put them at ease.    This is also why a strong knowledge of canon law is necessary for a confessor.  Canon law is not useful just for the ordering of the life of the Church as a whole, but also for putting penitents at ease in the confessional.   There are quite a few people who think that some things are sins, but they aren’t.

In any event, there are several criteria for a valid absolution under normal circumstances (it isn’t an emergency, the person is conscious and compos sui, etc.).    The first point among these criteria is contrition, sorrow for sins (either perfect or imperfect, contrition or attrition).

  1. Contrition (sorry for sins)
  2. Intention of amendment (not to sin again)
  3. Confession of sins (at least venial or something previously confessed and unless it is physically or morally impossible)
  4. Intention to do penance

On that last point, confessors should give penances that are quickly doable and the penitent knows she is done.  If a penitent forgets to do it, that doesn’t snap the person back into mortal sin.  And remember: ALL assigned penances are arbitrary.

As far as what Francis said, and there is no reason to think that he did not, given the number of people there, NO… if there is no intention to repent, absolution cannot be given.

Mind you: Sometimes people don’t know how to express well their sorrow for sin.  One can assume in most cases that the fact that the penitent is there in the first place, she is sorry for sins.   True sorrow doesn’t require rivers of tears and snuffling.  And sometimes people are businesslike and sound a little detached, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t truly sorry.  The same goes for firm purpose of amendment: sometimes it is hard to tell.  A gentle question or two can resolve this in the mind of confessor.  BUT… if even with a clarification there is no intention to repent, absolution cannot be given.

This is one of the great advantages to using the old-fashioned Act of Contrition: provided that the penitent isn’t lying about being sorry or intending to avoid sins (how wicked is that?) the confessor can be confident that he validly absolves.  And if YOU, the penitent, clearly means what the Act says, after confession of sins (which is the MATTER of the sacrament) YOU can be absolutely confident that your sins are forgiven.  After all, this is the way Jesus Himself wants us to be reconciled with Church, others and self.

A point about the traditional Act of Contrition.  Some versions end with “confess my sins, do my penance, and amend my life”.  Others end with “avoid the near occasion of sins” without explicit statement of about amendment.   That can be assumed in saying, “and I DETEST all my sins”.  If you detest something, you don’t want to do it.

I could ramble on about these elements, but we need some texts.

In the Roman Catechism we find:

That a sorrow for sin and a firm purpose of avoiding sin for the future are two conditions indispensable to contrition nature and reason clearly show. He who would be reconciled to a friend whom he has wronged must regret to have injured and offended him, and his future conduct must be such as to avoid offending in anything against friendship.

“… Likewise if, by word or deed he has injured his neighbor’s honor or reputation, he is under an obligation of repairing the injury by procuring him some advantage or rendering him some service. Well known to all is the maxim of St. Augustine: The sin is not forgiven unless what has been taken away is restored.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

CCC 1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.

1489 To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.

1490 The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God’s mercy.

1491 The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest’s absolution. The penitent’s acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation.

Turning to a manual, because we are unreconstructed ossified manualists, Ott says:

1. Concept and Necessity
The Council of Trent defines contrition (contritio, compunctio) as : “Grief of the soul for and detestation of the sins committed, with the intention not to sin in future” : animi dolor ac detestatio de peccato commisso, aim proposito non peccandi de cetero. D 897. [See that “D”?  That means it is found in the handbook of the Church’s teachings called after one of the editors, Denziger.] Thus the act of contrition is composed of three acts of the will which converge to one unity : grief of soul, detestation, intention. It is neither necessary nor always possible that the grief of sorrow, which is a free act of the will, be expressed in sensory feelings of sorrow. The intention of sinning no more is virtually included in true sorrow for sins committed. Contrition, as is evident from the nature of justification, is the first and the most necessary constituent part of the Sacrament of Penance, and has been an indispensable precondition of the forgiveness of sins at all times (D 897). Subsequent to the institution of the Sacrament of Penance this contrition must also include the intention of confession and atonement. As contrition is an essential ingredient of the sacramental sign, it must be expressly awakened during the reception of the Sacrament of Penance (contritio formalis).

Lastly, as in the case of censures that people can incur because of intentional sins, denial of absolution is more medicinal than punitive.  Denial, hopefully, will stir an (im)penitent to true sorrow (even if it is just attrition). A confessor should never deny absolution with a spirit of punishment or harshness. Rather, with great gentleness and concern he must explain that he greatly desires to, and looks forward to, granting absolution as soon as possible, provided that the person has a change of heart and is willing to return.

Finally, everyone…

GO TO CONFESSION!

Never hide sins.  Don’t ramble, but tell everything.   Don’t ever think the priest thinks less of you.  There is no sin so terrible that Almighty God can’t forgive.  When it is forgiven, even if you still remember it, it is gone forever.  

I will carefully moderate the com box under this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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33 Comments

  1. redneckpride4ever says:

    When I was a teenager our parish priest was left leaning, but I recall clearly a sermon he gave expressing his concern for those suggesting widespread use of general absolutions. I sincerely doubt even he would have approved of absolution unchecked.

    I wonder if statement like what His Holiness made could inadvertently light up a sense of orthodoxy in some who lean liberal. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  2. ArthurH says:

    Ths is not new nor unique to pope Francis. He just makes the error–any error and they are many and large– more visible.

    I received an MA in Theology from a local seminary 20 years ago and often chatted with the seminarians over lunch.

    At the time, one 3rd-year seminarian opined that a priest could not refuse absolution. After several of his classmates, including myself, corrected him, he stopped arguing… but I don’t not know if he actually believed us.

  3. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment”

    So… “Traditionis Custodes?”

  4. Gab says:

    ”if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all”.

    Current Code of Canon Law states:

    ”Title IV, Chapter III.

    THE PENITENT

    Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.”

  5. Southern gal says:

    “When [your sin] is forgiven, even if you still remember it, it is *gone forever*.”
    But what about the Final Judgment? Are all sins exhumed and exposed at the Last Judgment? I am not referring to the Particular Judgment, but to the General Judgment. I hope not, but I don’t know what the Church has to say. Must all sins be exposed in order to show that the judgment of the Almighty is just?

    [Okay, fine. Yes. Final judgment. That’s not what I was talking about … after 1600+ words.]

  6. APX says:

    Even the old TV show M*A*S*H got this correct in an episode where an injured soldier swapped dog tags with a deceased soldier in order to be able to get out of the war and go home. He confessed the sin, but refused to give up his sin, so he was denied absolution. It was explained almost exactly as said above.

    You know it’s bad when TV is more accurate than the Pope when it comes to the sacraments.

    [Season 10: “Identity Crisis”]

  7. Kent Wendler says:

    Whatever happened to the guarantee by the Holy Spirit that the pope would never teach error in faith and morals?

    [He wasn’t teaching. He was yakking.]

  8. Maximillian says:

    I think we will find that this is a case of Pope Francis’ words not being reported accurately.

    [I sincerely hope you are right. Have you seen any contradiction from the Holy See or correction issued by anyone who about present?]

  9. James C says:

    And he now orders changes to the CCC based on his yakking…

    https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2018/08/02/180802a.html

    [Yes, that is the issue of “capital punishment” which I wrote about extensively at the time after consulting with some really smart people. On the one hand we can’t simply keep making the same excuse over and over again: “Well, it’s not really official.” One the other hand we have to look at exactly what was done, where, and how. What he did do is manage to confuse the issue terribly, which to my understanding is the opposite of what Popes should do in teaching about faith and morals. That said, try as I might, I catch the hint at something in that change to the catechism, and it isn’t hard to guess that Francis doesn’t like capital punishment. But the fact remains that there is an established body of clear teaching that by far outweighs this move towards ambiguity in the CCC, founded NOT on the Church’s teachings in the past but only on his own previous, non-definitive musings.]

  10. Midwest St. Michael says:

    [He wasn’t teaching. He was yakking.]

    Which seems to be the case, more often than not, since 2013.

    [Context is really important.]

  11. Not says:

    I will leave this to all of you Priest. All of you who have taken vows and have anointed hands. All of you who hear things in the confessional that in some cases would scare the living daylights out of us. You who in the confessional are Another Christ.

  12. Elizium23 says:

    I once had a dispute with someone on some forum where he insisted that God always forgave sins, every time, no matter what, because God is so loving. I inquired whether repentance would be required first, before such a sin is forgiven, that we are sorry for it and we regret committing it? No no no, this pseudonymous interlocutor insisted, God always forgives, because forgiveness is free and abundant, like the air we breathe! And I pressed him and he equivocated and attempted to explain it thus: God always forgives and that forgiveness is “sent out” from Him, but it is “held” and “not received” until we repent. Therefore, according to this reasoning, there is an unknown amount of love and sanctifying grace that is sort of, uh, in Limbo, pending our human choice to repent in dust and ashes.

    And you know, I looked up people who would know this stuff, like Cardinal Arinze and stuff. And it stands to reason that if the economy of salvation functions thus, must not priests imitate and emulate this behavior of God? That if we are not forgiven unless we show repentance in God’s sight, how much more must we indicate that inclination to a priest? It must not be contrition, of course, merely attrition will suffice, but lacking even attrition, not even an unrepentant Protestant could be forgiven!

    [Perhaps this person needs to learn about prevenient grace.]

  13. JonPatrick says:

    I wonder if this has to do with the current obsession some in the Vatican have right now with the divorced/remarried and same sex unions. Allowing people in these relationships to go to confession without any intent to change their relationship yet still receive absolution. Not that they would ever consider these relationships sinful.

  14. JesusFreak84 says:

    “Mind you: Sometimes people don’t know how to express well their sorrow for sin. One can assume in most cases that the fact that the penitent is there in the first place, she is sorry for sins. True sorrow doesn’t require rivers of tears and snuffling. And sometimes people are businesslike and sound a little detached, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t truly sorry. The same goes for firm purpose of amendment: sometimes it is hard to tell. A gentle question or two can resolve this in the mind of confessor. BUT… if even with a clarification there is no intention to repent, absolution cannot be given.”

    This. I had an SSPX priest almost refuse me absolution fairly recently on this basis. (First time I went to that chapel, and I won’t be back, because it was every negative stereotype about the SSPX, as far as the clergy are concerned.) I’m very matter-of-fact in the confessional because I believe that’s the most respectful thing to the priest and the people behind me in line, (and I was going in first, so the latter were very much front-of-mind,) and I do think that was part of why Father thought I was impenitent. After hearing him preach during Mass later, I also suspect he’s also the type who views women as either the Blessed Mother or pre-conversion Mary Magdalene, confessing issues of impurity puts you in the latter camp, and if you’re in that latter camp, I mean quite literally God help you with priests like that…

    On the issue of impenitence more generally, however, I would go so far as to argue that *traditionalist* priests, in particular, can more easily presume penitence; if I had NO intention to to stop any given sin, would I go out of my way to seek out an SSPX, ICKSP, FSSP, or etc., priest? Or would I go to the closest priest I could find, who might even pat me on the head and tell me that it wasn’t *really* a sin to begin with?

    If Francis had been arguing that the threshold to deny absolution should be very high, that’d be another story. People can disagree about that, I imagine that sort of thing gets discussed in seminary, (during lunch, if nothing else,) but that doesn’t seem to be what the Pope’s arguing. The next Pope, if he’s not Francis II, is going to have a lot of mess to clean up…

  15. Imrahil says:

    So, the Pope preached what is clearly false, and could be dangerous if taken seriously. Fine. Anything else?

    Wake me up when that happens in an encyclical, postsynodal apostolic-letter, or catechism-change, or when it’s the next pontificate and it happens again.

    (And I have the feeling I am rather papist in still being ready to be shocked by encyclicals, postsynodal apostolic letters, and catechism-changes. The more exhausted will only be shocked by practical disciplinary decrees that hurt them [read: TC]; or of course dogmas, but then we believe false dogmas won’t happen.)

  16. sjoseph371 says:

    I understand MOST of what Fr Z explained EXCEPT the part where one is sincere to not continue the same sin. Being human wouldn’t this be impossible? What about a sex addict who confesses their sexual sins, but due to their addiction have a greater predilection to continue the same sin (even in recovery, one slips as well)? Or if one has a habit of swearing, or something like that? I am NOT using it as an excuse to keep sinning or to not even try, but I just wanted clarity, that’s all.

    [At the time of making one’s confession, one must have a sincere desire to amend one’s life. That doesn’t contradict human weaknesses. Similarly, in the related field of indulgences, to gain a plenary indulgence one must have no attachment even to venial sins. Difficult? Sure, but worth the effort. Things that are worth doing and are difficult need to be worked on over time. We do our best. But getting into that confessional means a sincere desire for amendment of life. For some this will be harder than it is for others. However, I believe that through the struggle for holiness even the weakest can because the greatest saints. And remember always: God doesn’t require from us the impossible. Saying some along the lines of “I can’t reach the ideal of amendment of life!” is like what is implicit in that infamous footnote in Amoris laetitia, and in the comments of those who argue in favor of Communion for adulterers.
    They claim that chastity and continence are impossible ideals that no one can be expected to reach. That is the work of the Enemy.]

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear Southern gal,

    I think there are different opinions on that, but the one that sounds most logical to me (as it does to others) is that the forgiven sin will indeed be mentioned at the Final Judgment. Nevertheless, it has ceased to be a sin. And it is rather likely that St. Stephen will give an especially big hug to St. Paul, if you get my meaning; sometimes things of the sort even happen in the Church militant still struggling with sin, after all.

  18. InFormationDiakonia says:

    It seems that all I can do anymore when I hear or read something Francis has said is, to use the acronym of the young, SMH.

    I find if difficult to listen to him.

  19. Gaetano says:

    Perhaps we need to institute a minimum basic knowledge test at future conclaves.

    [It would be great if “we” could do that.]

  20. Kathy T says:

    Your commentary is why I’m very careful who I go to for confession—sort of a shop around in reverse. I want a priest who understands what is sin rather than give me a lecture on scrupulousness (that can be a problem of course but not always, especially if the sin lies under the act). It is with great relief that I found such a diocesan priest. He understood immediately what I did whereas there wasn’t a single other priest in the entire diocese I could explain it to. This is a ridiculous situation to be in but I am not the only person here who feels this way. There are close to 50 people here desperately seeking a solid priest to go to for confession.

    [Make sure to thank Father at the end before you get “out of the box”.]

  21. JustaSinner says:

    Is it me or is Bergoglio turning into a caricature of Pontifex Maximus Peter II? From that really crappy Left Behind series…

    [I haven’t read that series. Do Popes have a role in the books?]

  22. abdiesus says:

    Kent Wendler, this is exactly the point. I don’t think there would be nearly as many Sede vacantists if the teaching about the Holy Spirit preventing a pope from being able to teach errors in faith and morals were accurately and strictly defined and fenced, and that means (among other things) illustrating by means of examples from past popes who might also have said erroneous things in different situations that didn’t amount to a similar failure of the Holy Spirit to prevent the man from teaching errors.

    Frankly I’m not surprised that when people hear things like this they might say to themselves, “Well I know the Holy Spirit would prevent any *true* pope from teaching such a thing, therefore this man must not be a *true* pope.” Then maybe they start looking at things like JP2 kissing the Koran, etc, and they start thinking, “How many of these guys weren’t *true* popes either?”

    I hardly ever hear anyone explaining these things clearly (e.g. “He wasn’t teaching, he was yakking”) in such a way that everyone can understand not only that it is a true statement that he wasn’t teaching, but “how we can *know*” that it is a true statement that he wasn’t teaching.

    What does it mean to teach? Is it possible to teach by your actions, or must it be an explicitly verbal event in order to qualify as “teaching”? Did Jesus teach us by his actions as well as his words? As an example from Scripture, Paul rebuked Peter for refusing to eat with Gentile Christians, which was an action, not a verbal event. Paul did NOT say “Hold on folks, Peter didn’t actually *teach* anything erroneous because he didn’t say anything at all. Peter merely acted in a certain way (or in this case refused to act in a certain way). Therefore there’s no problem here because no (verbal) teaching event occurred!”

    I’ll go further: Is it a teaching event when a pope writes a letter or publishes an encyclical where he fraudulently footnotes a previous encyclical by JP2 in support of his heretical position on communion for unrepentant divorced-and-remarried Catholics, when in reality JP2 in the footnoted document explicitly argues against the current pope’s position? Either way, it is a terrible way to lie to the faithful, but if it is also a teaching event, then we have some very serious problems.

    In short, I think we are in desperate need of clarity as to what it means (and does not mean) to “teach”.

  23. FrBlock says:

    I don’t normally comment on these threads, preferring to linger in the background, and I certainly cannot tell you what his Holiness *really* said: BUT principles are necessary to grasp.

    It is important to recognize that when our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, He told the apostles there would be times that they must deny absolution. This possibility is *integral* to the Sacrament – note the last line carefully in the following verse from St. John’s Gospel:

    “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn. 20:21-23)

    This is part of the duty of the Confessor: to assist the penitent in having true contrition for his sins. If there is no contrition, the denial of absolution is also medicinal and part of the care of souls: it prevents the abuse of the Sacred, makes the penitent aware of Whose Blood forgives sins, and calls the penitent to examine his conscience in a direct way, lest he end up damned.

  24. Kent Wendler says:

    (I have “retreated” to the position that the guarantee by the Holy Spirit applies only to ex cathedra dogmatic teachings.)

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  26. rdb says:

    Ordained more than 25 years. Only had to do this once. Person said I was the worst priest ever. I implored the person to meet with me, but the person did not. Fast forward six months. Person returned to my confessional (both times behind screen so I have no idea about what the person looked like). The person confessed and then told me they were the person I denied absolution. Then the person profusely thanked me for doing it. After the anger subsided, it was just what the person needed to get their life back on track. For the next few years this person would send their friends to me, (the penitents would say this) because they knew I would always tell them the truth.

  27. Discipula says:

    I know a teacher who, after discovering his students retained their lessons better when he spent class time “yakking” than when he spent that time formally instructing, proceeded to spend his entire class periods yakking on the topic. The school was well aware of his unorthodox methods and still paid him, in fact they gave him more struggling students because he was so successful. So “yakking” can be teaching, at least there are professional teachers who get paid to teach via “yakking.” It’s important not to get caught up in the external forms of things though. An intrinsic element of any and all teaching is truth. Without truth the action of teaching becomes indoctrination pure and simple. If Francis did say these things – and even if he wrote them down in some official capacity – it would not trouble my faith all that much *because what he said is so clearly and obviously not true.* Truth matters.

    The pope is infallible, the Holy Spirit does protect the Church from teaching error, and Francis could very well be pope – at least the Cardinals believed it when they presented him to the Church all those very long years ago. I’m willing to believe them, I’m just not willing to believe him without verification. Francis lost my trust many years ago and isn’t likely to get it back.

  28. Son of Saint Alphonsus says:

    If the penitent lacks contrition and the firm purpose of amendment and, despite knowing this, the confessor still pronounces absolution, it is invalid. There is no absolution. If the penitent walks out of the confessional and drops dead he or she is damned. [While not wanting to play God, who can save whom it pleaseth Him to chose, the prognosis is not good for such a person. Not good at all.]

    We must be crystal clear: without contrition and the firm purpose of amendment there is no forgiveness.

    That said, I have never had to refuse absolution. When I’m not sure the penitent is sorry and resolved to amend a couple of questions has quickly cleared up any doubts.

    Fathers, don’t be afraid to ask questions of penitents that pertain to the validity of the sacrament even though your seminary professors told you not to do so (as mine did). [Confessors are not absolution pez dispensers.]

  29. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    As a priest at a Cathedral in a tourist destination, I have had to deny absolution a few times, but only when the penitent has resolutely stated that he/she has no intention to amend his/her life.

    What is much more common, and very satisfying, is putting a penitent at ease by explaining that something is not a sin. This would never happen if I followed the common dictum of “don’t ask any questions.”

    There is so much confusion over sin and especially forgiving that it is frankly astonishing and perturbing.

  30. Amina says:

    At My first (General) confession, after returning to the church after some 20 years , the Irish Priest ( in cassock) asked me if I was sincerely repentant.

    At the time I had no clue what a “general confession “ was.

    I emphatically acclaimed I repented and I was sincere.

    He retired a few months later and To this day, I consider him a saint, and I credit him with my conversion.

  31. hwriggles4 says:

    @APX:

    Thank you for mentioning Fr. Mulcahy. When William Christopher died on New Year’s Eve 2016, I wrote a tribute that was posted on a Catholic Answers board where I highlighted two or three M*A*S*H* episodes that focused on Fr. Mulcahy, like the one where he was upset the cooks creamed the fresh corn he had grown and the time he rode in the chopper as the counterweight.

    Veterans Day, MeTV showed the last episode and I watched the last hour of it. I had not seen this episode in at least 25 years (I remembered the initial airing as a kid in 1983 when the world literally stopped for 2.5 hours – those who are at least 48 years old will remember).

    A great line from B.J. Hunnicutt in Goodbye, Farewell, Amen was:

    “Father when I arrived here my first impression of you was how is this guy going to survive this assignment. Well now Father I think out of all of us assigned here you were one of the strongest. ”

    Thank you William Christopher for portraying a priest in a positive light on television.

  32. sjoseph371 says:

    Thank you for the clarification, Fr. Z.

  33. robtbrown says:

    1. What is the difference between a purpose of amendment and a firm purpose of amendment?

    2. I prefer St Thomas’ understanding of contrition/attrition (the former being possible only in a state of grace, the latter not). That notwithstanding, the fact that someone has shown up for Confession, then confesses a sin, would seem to indicate contrition (in the contemporary sense, not in St Thomas’).

    3. I think also with the current confusion in the Church, even coming from the pope, it is understandable why certain souls would not manifest sorrow for certain sins. When members of the hierarchy seem to insist on hedging certain sins or say that proselytism is a sin against ecumenism, it obfuscates the very notion of not only of sin but also of the virtuous act.

    4. This pope is a product of a school of theology that muddles the moral criteria of the sexual act . The notion of sin according to the relation of the human act to the existence of a fundamental choice (cf Fuchs) makes it difficult to distinguish venial from mortal sin.

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