I have been a priest for 46 years and I have never broken, or was tempted to break, the Seal of Confession.
I have heard stories of priests breaking the Seal and passing on information about seminarians to seminary authorities or about priests to bishops.
A priest or bishop who breaks the Seal of Confession is AUTOMATICALLY EXCOMMUNICATED and in my understanding that censure is reserved to the pope.
I do not know if the civil authorities in Ireland or the UK would attempt to force a priest to break the seal of Confession?
It would certainly be a major step for the Church and priests to contend with.
If that happened I think the Church would have to encourage penitents to confess inaudibly to the priest and then the priest to pronounce absolution audibly.
FORGIVENESS v ABSOLUTION
It is important to remember that only God forgives, not the priest.
The priest, as minister of the Sacrament, only pronounces the words of absolution.
On one or two occasions in my 46 years I have heard things in Confession that made me feel that the penitent had further work to do on a matter discussed and on the question of restitution. This was always resolved in a kind, compassionate and mutually agreeable way.
I have never, ever, refused anyone absolution.
I too, and all priests, enter the Confessional as sinners.
Police have unlawfully refused to disclose whether or not an alleged prolific paedophile priest was a state informer, the High Court heard today.
Counsel for a victim of child sexual abuse claimed the PSNI has breached his human rights by maintaining a policy of neither confirming nor denying the suspected status of the late Fr Malachy Finnegan.
Judgment was reserved in the legal bid to have the force compelled to act on requests for information about the cleric’s alleged role as an agent.
Finnegan, who died in 2002, has been accused of a campaign of abuse while a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry.
He worked at the school between 1967 and 1987, spending the last decade as its president.
MALACHY FINNEGAN, priest, teacherand headmaster was a prolific paedophile over many years.
He targetted generations of Newry schoolboys and destroyed many lives.
And when he died the RCC afforded him a full priest’s funeral presided over by the bishop JOHN MC AREAVEY.
Mc Areavey had to resign when the truth about Finnegan emerged.
A BRITISH AGENT
It has now emerged that Finnegan, who lived in Republican Newry, was a British agent!
Was he given exemption from prosecution in return for giving the Brits information?
It looks like it.
How many people suffered because of Finnegan’s supply of information we will never know.
Cahal Daly once asked me to give information to the RUC and chief constable Sir John Hermon.
I immediately replied to him: “Do you not think there are enough informers in Northern Ireland as it is without the priests starting”?
There are many hidden things that have happened in Ireland when it comes to Church collusion with the state.
There have been bishops and priests who have colluded with the state.
There have also been clerics who colluded with the paramilitaries.
And there have been occasional clerics who have blood on their hands.
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town”. (Luke 10)
It is quite clear from the above – and from the call of the Apostles – that Jesus Himself called specific people and gave them a commission to go out and perform certain functions / ministeries on His behalf.
There is no indication that Jesus regarded these “chosen” ones as superior in any way to the rest of his disciples and followers. Nor is there any indication that those sent out were instructed to Break Bread or perform any “sacraments” apart from healing. Sacraments were a later development.
They certainly didn’t wear clerical dress or either Roman or Gothic vestments and spoke neither English or Latin. And there were no popes, bishops or priests.
When Jesus went away He left a basic Christian community behind Him. Two needs emerged – setting in place the resources needed by the community and the resistance of errors and heresies.
Structure developed. We saw the emergence of leaders/ presbyters and eventually the emergence of episcopi (overseers), presbyters (priests) and deacons.
It seems to me that some of the leaders of early churches were women.
“From the very beginning of the early Christian church, women were important members of the movement, although much of the information in the New Testament on the work of women has been overlooked. Since sources of information stemming from the New Testament church was written and interpreted by men, many assumed that it had been a “man’s church”. Recently, scholars have begun looking in mosaics, frescoes, and inscriptions of that period for information about women’s roles in the early church”.
The early Christian texts refer to various women activists in the early church. One such woman was St. Priscilla, a Jewish missionary from Rome, who may have helped found the Christian community at Corinth. She traveled as a missionary with her husband and St Paul, and tutored the Jewish intellectual Apollos. Others include the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, from Caesarea, Palestine, who were said to be prophets and to have hosted St Paul in their home. However, some people, including the author of Acts, did not see women as true missionaries or leaders in their own right even though they did perform good acts in the community. Widows for example were recognized as a group in society but were not admitted into the clerical rank. While women did have roles in early Christianity, as Christianity became formalized with sacraments and hierarchization or church office, women’s earlier public roles were restricted and regulated.
THE WASHINGTON POST
“The Virgin Mary was chosen to birth and raise the Son of God. Mary, Martha, Susanna and Mary Magdalene were just a few women who followed Jesus, helped fund his ministry and preached the Gospel. Priscilla, Lydia, Phoebe and Dorcas served as important leaders in the early church. I wish more churches focused on these (and many other) biblical heroines”.
The argument about women priests is one for another day.
A big change happened in the 4th century when the emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the empire. This gave the Church temporal power as well as spiritual power and made hierarchs and clerics people of authority, power and position.
This certainly highlighted the difference and superiority of the clergy over other Church members.
Of course Church doctrine and practice developes and this development is not always a bad thing.
Furthermore, we Catholics believe that God reveals Himself both through Scripture and Tradition.
But to my mind, such Tradition must compliment Scripture and certainly not contradict it.
Jesus never intended bishops and priests to be state officials or to be an arm of any state. Nor did He intend bishops to be vastly rich and powerful medieval rulers.
Jesus did not intend clericalism and the clerical club to emerge as a force in the Church that lorded it over the laity.
He never intended bishops palaces and Downtown Abbey presbyteries.
PRIEST versus CLERIC
An RC priest is two things. He is a priest by Sacrament and a cleric by canon law.
The RCC does not have the power to stop a man being a priest. That is God given.
So when a priest is dismissed he is not dismissed from the priesthood. He is “dismissed from the clerical state”.
The ignorant term “defrocked” is meaningless.
So, our real problem today is with clerics and clericalism.
It is with clerics as a cabal. And this has been based on seeing the priesthood as a profession – like doctors, lawyers etc – and the term man of the cloth.
It has turned disciples into operatives and office holders.
Did Jesus intend the Roman Catholic priesthood as it is today?
The plain answer must be NO!
And that means the priesthood must be thoroughly rethought and reformed.
DEATH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH
I am Irish, not British. I am not a royalist.
But I am genuinely sad to hear of the Queen’s death.
Regardless of our political feelings and our feelings about the history of Britain in Ireland and further afield, we can only admire her dedication to her duty and her vocation.
The Irish Synodal Path document sent to Rome is critical of some younger priests and calls them ” rigid”.
Some of these young priests have taken to the media to say that they are hurt by being written off as rigid.
In what senses can a priest be rigid?
It could be by throwing the doctrinaire Catechism of the Catholic Church at people and telling them that they MUST obey every word and line in it – and not taking into account the individual’s circumstances and subjective morality.
It could be by interpreting the Bible, especially the Old Testament, ansolutely literally. Using Leviticus to condemn homosexuality and not telling people that the book equally condemns the eating of prawns.
It could be expressed in the Liturgy – by insisting on the superiority of the Latin Mass over the vernacular Mass and insisting on using pre Vatican II vestments and smothering themselves in girly lace, linen and silk.
It could be by appearing to be a pharisaic pillar of virtue on the altar on a Sunday and swimming in bodily fluids in a gay sauna on Monday.
You see, many of us who have watched some other specific younger priests come along – the ones named on this blog in the past – have noticed that they live double lives – rigid on others and totally permissive in their private lives.
And that type of living is blatantly hypocritical and absolutely unacceptable.
Don’t forget how “rigid” the Pharisees were and how Jesus lambasted them.
This Blog has shown over the years how rigidity can often be a cover for hypocrisy.
Recently I visited a consultant about the osteoarthritis in my hands.
He was a middle aged Catholic and surprised me whenever he said:
“I see lots of priests of your age. You were of that generation of priests who got on on the street and got stuck into community action and ended up with broken hands”.
Nowadays many of these rigid young priests have moisturised hands and visit nail clinics.
That’s a far cry from the Nazarene who had one garment and who fished and cooked and whose companions were tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers and outcasts.
Jesus was not rigid!
Neither should his disciples be!
People become rigid whenever they deify and practice man made laws.
The cure for rigidity is allowing the Compassionate Jesus to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
One of the founders of Silvstream, which has an upper age limit of 35. Kirby comes with a long strange history. Accused by some of being sexually inappropriate to other monks. Thinks Jesus talks to him from the tabernacle. Currently soujourning in the Low Countries in a convent with two young novices to meet his needs.
JOHN PAUL “POWER BOTTOM” LYTTLE –
Departed his parish for trying to seduce a young policeman. Long history of seeking ordination. Well known in The licensed vintners trade. Missing in action.
STEPHEN WILSON –
Amy’s recent ordinand. Friend of Ryan Mc Aleer and many others. Secret to his success – knows where all the bodies are buried.
AND IN THE USA – ANOTHER JERRY CAREY
Washington Area Priest Charged With Indecent Exposure
A Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Washington has been placed on administrative leave and suspended from public ministry pending an investigation after he was charged with the misdemeanor offense of indecent exposure Aug. 25.
The allegations in charging documents say that Father Jaroslaw “Jerry” Gamrot, pastor of Holy Face Parish and administrator of Little Flower School in Great Mills, Maryland was masturbating in a vehicle on Route 70 and exposed himself to a man driving in another vehicle, baynet.com reported.
The outlet reported that the incident occurred on Jul. 25 and that Gamrot, 58, allegedly pulled his vehicle next to the man’s vehicle three times and exposed himself, while wearing no pants.
“A Catholic bishop has said the national synthesis sent to Rome earlier this month revealed “an attitude to what could be termed ‘traditional’ faith which is mildly dismissive.” Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Phonsie Cullinan also felt that the synodal process which led to the synthesis “was somewhat rushed. The time limitation given by those tasked to oversee the Synod in Rome was insufficient.
It was also the case that “a number of things emerge from the synthesis which challenge church teaching which she has held since the beginning”, added Bishop Cullinan”.
Phonsie, Robert Nugent, the Latin Mass brigade and other antedeluvians are not happy about Pope Francis’ Synodal Path and the various national contributions to the process.
They say various deflecting things but the bottom line is that these people are anti Vatican II and want us all to return to the church and the world of the 1950s.
“God wants spiritual fruits – not religious nuts”.
The Fonz is a religious nut that has fallen from the Opus Dei tree.
He should never have been a priest, never mind a bishop. His expressed views and actions cause great offence and hurt to many people and make people laugh out loud at him and his church.
Recently he was running around the youth community house he established at Glencomeragh squealing and excited at the thought of meeting the newest community member – Jose, a 20 year old Spanish lad.
And then there has been his other rants about the cervical cancer vaccination and yoga.
……and his unexplained relationship with:
There is something deeply worrying about Phonzie and his fellow travellers in the anti Vatican II, trad Mass and Opus Dei confederation.
I was glad to see Pope Francis taking recent action to clip the wings of the Opus Dei cult.
Francis has ordered that the head of Opus Dei will no longer be a bishop.
Furthermore, he has removed the Vatican governance of Opus Dei from the Congregation of Bishops to the Congregation of the Clergy – symbolising that Opus Dei is no longer regarded in Rome as part of the hierarchy but instead part of the clergy serving the people.
If Francis achieves nothing else except to clip the wings of the hierarchical, clerical and lay religious nuts, he will be doing us all a great service.