At this rate, I’ll turn English away from the Norman Conquest and back to a decent polysyllabic German by next week. Maybe I’ll get my own Ordo Missae translation.

I was reading of the outrage on Catholic sites and in L’Osservatore Romano about the journalist who poked into confessionals with fake sins to compare penances and see if they aligned with church teaching.

In poor taste, but I think the sacrament will survive.

Something like this would have been unthinkable in previous generations, and I’m not at all sure it was because of the potential punishment for such a prank. There was a line of honor not to cross, and in the 21st century those lines have eroded all over the place. The L’Espresso journalist tickles a question about authority that some of us might indeed like to know. The mystique that kept people in confession lines fifty years ago has mostly vanished. We’re left with questions instead of certitudes, questions of authority, justice, and fairness.

Perhaps clergy themselves have contributed to the erasure of lines. While theology tells us that it is Christ who forgives, perhaps people were in some way dependent on the supervirtuous image of the priest. It may have been easier to believe the priest was Jesus than a mortal man with an indelible mark sitting in for the Lord.

I don’t know the best answer to this situation. I do think that Catholics: clergy and laity alike, are being challenged to a higher and better example of holiness. Protests are fine to a point. But they do not repair the damaged image of the Church and its believers in the public eye, a regrettable situation that makes Catholicism more attractive a target.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Pseudoconfessions

  1. Liam says:

    “We’re left with questions instead of certitudes, questions of authority, justice, and fairness.”

    Sometimes. But sometimes we’ve also replaced our questions with our own certitude, of uncertain authority, justice and fairness.

    And the integrity of Christians has been a target since the 1st century; not a century is more or less vulnerable on that score. It’s just that the causes (and excuses, too) shift. It’s one of the latent manifestations of original sin.

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