Secrecy Above All

dotCommonweal notes this story on no phone-in or internet confessions for Coptic Christians. I noted the given reason in the press:

Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security.

 

A confession over the Internet does not count as a confession, because everybody can look at it and it won’t be secret.

I hope there was more.

Privacy is indeed important, but the Roman reasoning has stated that a sacrament requires a physical presence of celebrants: minister and recipient both. That trumps another value, privacy. Privacy, of course, remains gravely important.

If a person were to overhear a confession that would not invalidate the sacrament. If accidental, it would be unfortunate. If intentional, gravely sinful. But still the sacrament would remain valid.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Secrecy Above All

  1. Chris says:

    Todd, In my parish in Massachusetts, my pastor was busy at the printed confession time. He told me to come into the sacristy to do confession. I did, but people kept walking in and out while I was trying to confess! Needless to say, I didn’t feel uplifted. Was this an invalid confession?

  2. Liam says:

    How I love it when priests treat penitents as scrupulous parasites on the priest’s valuable and limited time.

  3. Todd says:

    Chris, the snark in me would say valid confession, invalid approach to ministry.

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