Father Z Hits 'em Where it Hurts...

Talking to a much loved aunt yesterday, I was regaled with stories from her parish of general absolution and face to face confession. Of course, to offer general absolution in place of individual confession is strictly prohibited. The Code of Canon Law states that:

Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.

Can. 960 Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the only ordinary means by which a member of the faithful conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and the Church. Only physical or moral impossibility excuses from confession of this type; in such a case reconciliation can be obtained by other means.
Can. 961 §1. Absolution cannot be imparted in a general manner to many penitents at once without previous individual confession unless:

1/ danger of death is imminent and there is insufficient time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;

2/ there is grave necessity, that is, when in view of the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available to hear the confessions of individuals properly within a suitable period of time in such a way that the penitents are forced to be deprived for a long while of sacramental grace or holy communion through no fault of their own. Sufficient necessity is not considered to exist when confessors cannot be present due only to the large number of penitents such as can occur on some great feast or pilgrimage.

§2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop to judge whether the conditions required according to the norm of §1, n. 2 are present. He can determine the cases of such necessity, attentive to the criteria agreed upon with the other members of the conference of bishops.

Can. 962 §1. For a member of the Christian faithful validly to receive sacramental absolution given to many at one time, it is required not only that the person is properly disposed but also at the same time intends to confess within a suitable period of time each grave sin which at the present time cannot be so confessed.

§2. Insofar as it can be done even on the occasion of the reception of general absolution, the Christian faithful are to be instructed about the requirements of the norm of §1. An exhortation that each person take care to make an act of contrition is to precede general absolution even in the case of danger of death, if there is time.

Can. 963 Without prejudice to the obligation mentioned in ⇒ can. 989, a person whose grave sins are remitted by general absolution is to approach individual confession as soon as possible, given the opportunity, before receiving another general absolution, unless a just cause intervenes.

Can. 964 §1. The proper place to hear sacramental confessions is a church or oratory.
§2. The conference of bishops is to establish norms regarding the confessional; it is to take care, however, that there are always confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely.

§3. Confessions are not to be heard outside a confessional without a just cause.

Obviously this last relates to the face to face thing.

I have to say I was a little surprised that this is still going on anywhere. Simultaneously, I was pleasantly surprised to discovered that Father Z had just addressed the issue in typically acerbic form and certainly leaving no room for doubt:

There was a craze for a while to make everything “meaningful”. Therefore, we dumbed our worship down to the vernacular, then dumbed down the translation, started using dumber music, dumbed down catechism which resulted in catholicly dumber Catholics, dumbed down seminary resulting in catholicly dumber priests, etc.
We produced dumber priests, alas. In seminary, one of the dumbest faculty members – quite a distinction in that crowd – actually told us that sacraments takes place when you look into the eyes of the other person.
Talk about dumb. That might have been well-meaning, but that’s just plain stupid.
For a while seminarians and priests were being pushed or told or advised or urged actually to lay their hands on people while giving absolution. Let’s picture this: in an enclosed room, the priest puts his hands on the penitent?!? Again, that might have been well-meaning, but that’s just plain stupid. I hope no priest is still doing that. If there are any, I hope they have good lawyers.
Even more, I urge priests to get into the confessional and HEAR CONFESSIONS. One of these days, Fathers, you will stop breathing. Your heart will beat its last beat. You will go to your judgement. If you are pastor of a parish, you will go to your judgement as a priest who had the care of souls. God is going to sort out your life, and God cannot be fooled. If you are not offering reasonable confession times to the people of your parish, if you are not teaching people about mortal sin and the effects of the Sacrament of Penance, you are probably in serious danger of eternal separation from God.
Here is a little thought to brighten your day: Try to imagine what goes through the mind of the damned soul during his first 10 seconds in Hell.
How do you think, Fathers, God will look upon your lack of care for the Sacrament of Penance? Hear confessions and/or get priests to help you with this obligation. Preach about confession. Teach about confession. Hear confessions.
Have a nice day!

Read the full, brilliant rant here.

I was a little gentler with my lovely aunty but she was almost as shocked as Macaulay! 

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