Ban The Room?

A solution in search of a problem: banning reconciliation so-called rooms.

To begin with, I have little patience for confessionals and less for “rooms.” Penance is a sacrament and the celebration of it, ordinarily, belongs in a chapel. Unless it is celebrated in a church for either form III, II, or even I.

(Non-confessionals), rather than separating the priest from the kneeling penitent, places the parishioner face to face with the priest, a position not unlike that of a patient and therapist, a symbolism reinforced by décor often resembling a psychiatrist’s office.

reconciliation chapelOffice décor would be truly problematic. As I think to the spaces in my recent parishes, the last two would qualify as chapels, though the present one is mostly dark. The one before that is presented as a mini-building of sorts adjacent to a large narthex. (Imaged, right.)

I actually wonder if traditional confessionals (“box” in church colloquia) are more of a danger. A predator need not have a visual connection to a victim, as stories about online stalking inform us. I have no recollection of bad experiences in the “box,” but I have heard from others who have had “Creepy” experiences of priests digging for salacious details, especially when it comes to sex.

I found it interesting that Mr Bootsma, in his appeal for tradition, seems unaware of the sin-therapy practice of some “modern” confessors. I remember a school guidance counsellor probing for details about my high-school sex life. I gave curt answers, as I’d been warned of that religious brother’s inclination to talk enthusiastically about sex.

I don’t think I’d advocate for the omission of either boxes or rooms. But a nice side chapel would seem to fit the bill for current circumstances.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Ban The Room?

  1. Devin Rice says:

    The Eastern practice of having the penitent confess before an icon of Christ off to the side in the main church is an attractive option. I suppose in a Catholic Church one could set up a crucifix or Icon upon the main altar and confess before it. Of course, both of these option practices tend to negate the ability to confess anonymously.

    • Todd says:

      A penitent could still confess separated by a screen. In form II I always set up an option for that. But given the Saturday afternoon lines at my church, nobody is really anonymous.

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