Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


A New Reason for Not Going to Confession

October 21st, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

Someone I know thinks that it is a good idea before going to confession to check out the priest’s “Friends” on Facebook, and not to go to someone who is friends with someone who poses any kind of risk to the potential “confessee” or even who they’re uncomfortable about — not because they don’t trust the seal of confession (which they do believe in) but “just because….”


11 Responses to “A New Reason for Not Going to Confession”

  1. avatar II Cor 2.11 says:

    Well, going to Confession has something to do with my conscience.
    I wish the fine writers at CF would write about conscience. I wonder if there is such a thing as a “guilty” conscience anymore or has the average individual’s conscience become completely subjective, the substitute being an enlightened education.Is having the currently correct sentiments of non-judgmentalism and desire to pursue diversity and inclusion all that is needed to have a”good” conscience?

  2. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    In the news recently (from the Synod):

    Archbishop Chaput said, “Each of us has the duty to follow his or her conscience. But conscience doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it’s more than a matter of personal opinion or preference. The Church is not a collection of sovereign individuals. We’re a community, a family, organized around the person of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. We have an obligation to form our consciences in the truth. That means we need to allow ourselves to be guided by the wisdom and teaching of the Church that Jesus founded.

    “If my conscience disagrees with the guidance of the Church on a matter of moral substance, it’s probably not the Church that is wrong. Human beings – all of us – are very adroit at making excuses for what we want to do, whether it’s sinful or not.”

  3. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:

    “The authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians. This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom “from” the truth but always and only freedom “in” the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith. The Church puts herself always and only at the service of conscience, helping it to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine proposed by human deceit (cf. Eph 4:14), and helping it not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it.” —– JP II in Veritatis Splendor

  4. avatar Mary-Kathleen says:


    It is not an uncommon criticism from the secular world today that we are a “guilt-ridden” people. Other Christians easily stereotype us Catholic Christians by what they often call a “guilt laden lifestyle.” How easily they misunderstand that part of the nature of conscience is guilt. Without guilt the full exercise of conscience is retarded. “The feeling of guilt, the capacity to recognize guilt, belongs essentially to the spiritual make-up of the person” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI (1991). “This feeling of guilt disturbs the false calm of conscience and could be called conscience’s complaint against (one’s own) self-satisfied existence.” The Cardinal went on to say that as physical pain signals a disturbance of one’s normal physical bodily functioning, so also does guilt function as a disturbance for one’s normal spiritual functioning for an erroneous conscience. He stated that “whoever is no longer capable of perceiving guilt is spiritually ill . . . all persons need guilt feelings.”

  5. avatar II Cor 2.11 says:

    Thank you, Mary-Kathleen.

  6. avatar Persis says:

    I am a little confused as to why the original post is here. Is there a question there? Or is this just another slam at the priests of the DOR?
    And what difference does it make who a priests Facebook friends are?
    It saddens me so much that ideas like this come from so-called “faithful Catholics”. 🙁

  7. avatar Hopefull says:

    I don’t see any reason to assume something is a slam — I think it is more wondering if other people are running into this, and how we might answer someone who has those convictions (or excuses). And there is nothing in the post to even indicate it is a DoR issue! Let’s not immediately jump to impugning other people’s motives, please.

  8. avatar Persis says:

    OK, let’s see…
    #1. this is a blog that started in the DOR, so I figured it was a “safe assumption”.
    #2. There is no question, just a statement that this is happening
    #3. Maybe it’s just me but I see this post as “stirring a pot”, why would anyone not go to confession because of who the priests friends are, it makes NO SENSE!! Unless the person who stated it has an extreme lack of faith.

    So, I apologize if I am assuming too much, but quite frankly, my assumptions do not seem like a stretch to me.

  9. avatar Diane Harris says:

    @ II Cor 2:11

    If you have not read Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger “On Conscience” you might want to do so. It is published by The National Catholic Bioethics Center and Ignatius Press, and contains two essays by (later-to-be) Pope Benedict XVI.

    One essay is: “Conscience and Truth” and the other is “Bishops, Theologians and Morality.” Here are some highlights to whet the appetite:


    : by John M. Haas (Bioethics Center): “Cardinal Ratzinger warned that the radical notion of a justifying, even though mistaken, conscience leads to a dictatorship of relativism, which invariably leads to a tyranny of the strong over the weak. (Pointing to US Supreme Court decisions.)”


    : “… [if conscience were infallible] there would be no Truth … no real freedom … There must be something deeper if freedom and, therefore, human existence are to have meaning.”

    “…The identification of conscience with superficial consciousness, the reduction of man to his subjectivity, does not liberate but enslaves.”

    “Certainly, one must follow an erroneous conscience. But the departure from truth that took place beforehand and now takes its revenge is the actual guilt, which first lulls man into false security and then abandons him in the trackless waste.”


    : “… the renewal of morality is not just some rearguard action of a zealot opposed to progress, but the critical question on which any real progress will depend.”

    “Conscience is understood by many as a sort of deification of subjectivity….”

    “…morality needs a “we” and…a link with the experience of past generations and with the primitive wisdom of humanity.”

    “It is impossible in the long run to have a society that lives … only as a reaction from what is negative and evil.”

    “Conscience has a right to respect and obedience in the measure in which the person himself respects it and gives it the care which its dignity deserves.”

  10. avatar II Cor 2.11 says:

    Thank you, Diane. This is so helpful, however, I am wondering if Hopeful isn’t on to something! Facebook: a place to seek admiration, perhaps sympathy, to present yourself in the best possible light. The Confessional: a place to accuse yourself and to be honest about your faults and shortcomings without trying to justify yourself. IMO, there is something odd about a priest who is not only privy to the Sacrament of Reconciliation but is also its agent having a “presence” on Facebook…This state of affairs seems to introduce an element of doubt, confusion and uncertainty in a place where what is needed is trust and faith.

  11. avatar Diane Harris says:

    @ II C
    I am wondering about that too. I think if someone keeps anonymity in the confessional (as they are absolutely permitted to do) there is much less of an issue for concern. But if the penitent seeks some measure of advice, spiritual insight and a ‘confessor’ relationship (where the priest comes to know the penitent better and can be more helpful to them, especially about repeated sins, scrupulosity, doubt etc.) then who are the priest’s ‘friends’ on facebook might have some influence on choice of confessors. I’m not saying it is justified, only that it seems somewhat understandable. Different people have different barriers to confession, some are very scared and some are more transparent, delighting in the joy of absolution. One size definitely does not fit all.

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