Catholic Church Approves Blanket Forgiveness For Sins During Outbreak

The Vatican has announced that it has granted blanket forgiveness for sins by anyone struck with the coronavirus as well as healthcare workers and those who pray for healthcare workers. Relatives of the sick are also forgiven. I must admit that, as a lawyer raised Catholic, I am surprised by the use of general absolution on this scale. I am also struck by the specificity, including that those who want to take advantage of the option for those who pray must also pray, doing so “for at least half an hour.”

General absolution is not unprecedented. It can be used where there is a widespread catastrophe or danger with no time for a priest to administer confessions. It is also considered warranted when the numbers of those affected are so large as to exceed the capabilities of the Church.

The penitent must still be contrite and agree to seek confession at the soonest possible time.

This order was issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience, including confession. It decided that the “grave necessity” of the situation justified the action.

As a lawyer, this seems like quite a potential loophole for the licentious in times of crisis. However, the devil divinity is in the details. The matter is left to local bishops to determine the necessity for general absolution while “taking into account the supreme good of the salvation of souls.”

The use of general absolution has been controversial in countries like Australia where it was commonly invoked.

The tribunal gives specific instructions for absolution in places like “the entrance to hospital wards where faithful in danger of death are hospitalized, using — within the limits of what is possible and with appropriate precautions — means for amplifying the voice so that the absolution is heard.”

252 thoughts on “Catholic Church Approves Blanket Forgiveness For Sins During Outbreak”

  1. bythebook — Yes, in Italy look sharp or be ignored, shunned, remonstrated.

    At least in the previous century.

    — David B Benson

    1. I went to a club there, waltz in shorts and sandals. 😜. At first, the bouncer said no to the sandals, but was okay with the shorts, and then I said c’mon. He waved some guy over, gave the 👍 and I strolled in. They cater to the tourist. Even those that didn’t bring proper attire.

      1. When you go to Europe this is all you need:

        1 standard backpack
        1 pair of good sneakers
        1 pair of sandals
        5 t-shirts
        3 shorts
        1 bathing suit
        1 jacket

        And a few toiletries…

        And that’s it…it will last you 3 weeks, just wash 2x, the whole trip. Super light traveling…not suitcase needed.

        P.S. and 1 scarf or long skirt, per this thread

          1. Ah, true, true. Towel has immense psychological value. Don’t Panic, the Answer is 42. 😜😎🤓

            That’s a throwback for me, for sure.

            Sci-Fi nerds unite on here. You should check out Westworld. Season 1 and beginning of Season 3 is 👍

            Season 2, meh.

          1. Paul – skip the skirt, go to a Scottish kilt. You could make it work.

            I was chastised earlier for my antics 😕. It was a definitional misunderstanding bet Kurtz and myself.

            This could be case, Mr. Kurtz v. WW33, no consensus ad idem, k void from the get-go.

            Short shorts is very similar to the case of the Peerless ships. Same problem.

            1. WW33 – I have to admit, I wear shorter shorts than you do. 😉 You always have to define terms. Short shorts to me are short enough to be risque on the right person. 😉

              1. Paul — the last time I tried to join a church, here in LA, I ended up at a Bible meeting at this hotel called Shutters in Santa Monica. The other two gals didn’t show up to the Bible study, smart move. Although a hotel was not the original plan anyway. And I was asking why we were there bc not like we were guest. Ended up being walked through the bar/lounge area. Maybe some hand signals went down, but that was debatable…I left the place, awkward. I remember a gal pal from 10 years earlier, telling me all about Shutters in the Hollywood scene. I was not part of that scene. Close by, but an arms length away. So much for church.

                1. A former child actor, Disney person, who I met randomly, although not sure if it was random, brought me there. So much for Mickey Mouse.

                  1. 🤔 strange, very strange.

                    That’s not to be outdone by the alleged Christian cults that come to nice neighborhood in suburban areas and try to kidnap/convince young impressionable to come with them, in the name of the Lord. Always using 15-25 yo to make the impression on 14-18 yo high schoolers. Always with the white vans and the Christian movement.

                    1. My friend and I were in the receiving end of one of these groups…we called the police and our parents.

                      But ya know, it was just a claim. Like where is the van? Where is the guy who tried to pick you guys up in the parking lot?

                  2. Obviously, there are some very good nice religious folks out there, I don’t dispute it.

                    But also some bad eggs, using the “in the name of the religion” line, and they do not have good agendas, say that much

      2. A club is a very different venue than a basilica.
        For comparison, when visiting Florence on an early Sunday morning, about 25 years ago, the vergers on the doors of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Croce denied entrance to anyone not attending Mass. In India, one is not permitted to enter the Taj Mahal without removing shoes and washing feet. In Jerusalem, women are expected to cover their heads, when entering places like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (and the monks are none too keen on bare arms and short skirts). Having visited a fair few holy places (including cemeteries and war memorials) over the years, it’s my observation that the vast majority of visitors behave as though these sacred sites are just one more museum or tourist attraction, ignoring the requests posted at the entries reminding people they are entering a place of worship or one worthy of respectful silence – as though their desire to traipse through is the most important consideration. So, sadly, many cathedrals, especially, now restrict access to significant areas. Some charge admission. Some refuse entry altogether once Mass or other worship service has begun. There are some, like country clubs, which maintain a stock of hats, scarves, etc., to loan to visitors.
        In this day and age, however, there is absolutely no excuse for not being aware of the proper dress or behavior which may be required at such sites. Failure to organize one’s itinerary is unfortunate, but no excuse.

  2. The Vatican has announced that it has YAHOO NEWS LINK granted blanket forgiveness for….

    Yahoo News, huh? Does GW pay you for teaching law courses using such sophomoric sources as Yahoo, or do you have an axe to grind with the Church because you married a non-Catholic?

    You need to pull out your Rosary, and perhaps a flogger in your case, to receive the benefits of a Plenary Indulgence and pray like the dickens. Go to Confession at the Basilica by Catholic University. Priests are always there to hear Confession. Given your many scandalous public statements and public commentaries, you might be there a while. Take some knee pads with you. Just saying.

    Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the granting of special Indulgences to the faithful in the current pandemic

    The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.

    Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

    This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

    http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2020/03/20/200320c.html

  3. Somehow the body of the recent comments on this thread reminded me of an Edgar Allan Poe short story.

    — David B Benson

    1. i thought your field was algebra. but i guess that is above my head anyways

      if you have an expertise then share it with us underlings here, elaborate

      i like to watch MIT professor Lex fridman’s AI podcast, though I don’t get the half of it

  4. The St. Peter’s Basilica refused to let me in for not having long enough shorts. Hahaha. I forced my travel partner to take his shirt off, tied it around my waist like a skirt, and said “not bad, this works, yeah?” to the security. The security guard was so amused he let me in. “Just go, shaking his head and laughing.” Rofl. As soon as I got in, I gave the shirt back, walked around in short shorts. So much for for rules. 👍😆😉

    1. When my other relative was there, won’t say which one, the got to the roof and took picture looking down on the place. That was in the 70s though. It’s pretty awesome pics from the roof.

      Don’t worry, in the Catholic church, rules were meant to be broken. And then forgiven with the snap of a finger.

      1. WW33 – it takes more than the snap of a finger to get forgiveness. I speak from experience. 😉

      2. WW33, when we travel I wear specific clothing that is adaptable. Told I couldn’t enter the place in shorts I pulled out the pant legs and zipped them on; Tie, small bow tie; Jacket, unfolded protective jacket.

        1. Allan, unlike me, you came prepared, I was already melting in 100 degree F Rome heat, with sun rash, looked like staph up and down my legs, but the pharmacist informed me, just really bad sunburn with mild fever/hot & cold chills, and day sweats.

          What I should have done was brought a long thin skirt, but didn’t own any. I keep my closest limited to only necessaries, which means sometimes you don’t have certain items.

          They also were closing in 45 minutes, and I was leaving on a plane the next a.m. talk about bad timing to go there….i made my best effort and it worked.

          Dress codes in August should never be enforced.

          1. I was just thinking, hahaha, maybe the security guard thought I needed prayers Big Time bc of the red hive looking rash up and down my legs….and he was like okay, just go in, fast, smh and laughing, bc my attempt at a skirt was ridiculous.

            1. WW33, let me be blunt because a lot of girls & women don’t get this. I am a man and conditioned by a million years of evolution to react to women’s secondary sex characteristics

              when i used to go to Mass and a girl would flounce up there in tight pants leaving no part of her buttocks, hips, and vulva to the imagination, it used to distract me. “short shorts” also often leave the lower butt cheek bare.

              then there are the women with ample bosoms who enjoy to display them with choice of clothing

              well I enjoy such things at times but Mass is not one of the times I enjoy them
              I am all in favor of women self expressing their female features but there is proper place and time

              is this so hard to understand? yes modesty is a value

              1. Whoa whoa whoa, I’m not Miley Cyrus, my short shorts go to mid-thigh…

                Those short shorts are like gross, they’re not shorts, they’re long underwear. 🤢

                My shorts are really not short, but short for me, since I usually wear Bermuda shorts at shorts, but it was so hot 🔥. Rome is August, do not do it. Go at a different time of year.

                  1. i saw a 20 year old girl at a pizza shop a couple weeks ago with a fifth of her butt cheek hanging out — a worker! — and nobody seemed to care. is there no limit?

                    about a decade ago it was “butt cleavage;” the women tried to outdo each other by exposing more of their upper gluteals. Now, it’s the lower edge that draws the attention.

                    I sometimes wonder if this is purely attention seeking, or a sort of vanity competition that some women get into trying to outdo others for who is more daring. or a little of both as the case may be. in every single case, it shows poor judgment. this is why older women are generally more modest. because they have learned more through experience.

                    i have seen some of my daughter’s and nieces college attire and it’s very immodest. i have abandoned scolding them because it is a waste of breath. i just mention it here in the hopes that someone more responsive may learn.

                    I am considered old fashioned in those ways. I don’t care about what fools think, however. modesty is a virtue and a timeless one, however hemlines may rise and fall.

                    fools say this is a matter of sexual repression. nothing could be further from the truth. it is social sensitivity, and a sense of value. what is of value, should be protected. what is of value, should not be given away promiscuously, free, that’s casting pearls before swine.

                    now as it regards some other rules in a foreign place, one simply needs to comply, and not judge them, because, when you are there, you are a foreigner. what many americans don’t understand about being a foreigner, is that natives generally do not like you, just because you are a foreigner. this is the way it is in most places around the world besides America and besides the tourist venues that make their bread off of foreigners. be safe and when in rome do as they do, so to speak

                    1. Not interested at all in the Catholic Church – or any church – but looked over here and saw this discussion of attire and modesty.

                      Applying to all Americans – all ages, both sexes – is what slobs we’ve become. My two favorite examples are:

                      1. I got a ticket one day 15 years ago and it required a court appearance – can’t remember why. I wore nice pants, shirt and a tie – no jacket. The court was full of maybe 50 people with similar minor cases and the predominant attire was shorts, T shirts, and flip-flops. I thought showing respect to the court and the judge would help one’s position, but apparently the judge had been trained to accept this low standard.

                      2. A while back, medical professionals convinced us all that nurses and docs could wear pajamas to work and somehow pass as being in actual work clothes. My fantasies still go to the nurse with little cap, stockings, etc, – you get the picture. I don’t have fantasies about docs, but maybe the women do.

                      In general, we look like we don’t care and I guess we don’t. I’ve been told it’s different in Europe – especially Italy – where looking sharp is a good thing.

                    2. Applying to all Americans – all ages, both sexes – is what slobs we’ve become. My two favorite examples are:

                      You’re not exactly well turned out in that mug shot you slapped on your LinkedIn profile.

                    3. TIA, is another one on here with access, knows everything about everyone. PCS is another one. 😲

                      And then the paranoia sets in….but now, just let it all hang out. 😉 no stopping it.

                      2001 Space Odyssey

                    4. No, Paul, not you, we are friends. 🤠

                      Like I said, 180 degree the mentality. Letting it all hang out. Call it the Trump effect.

                1. I don’t care what that guy uses for files but i throw files in bags like that all the time. my court briefcase was inherited it looks about 50 years old because it is. that’s the real recycling, when the thing is durable enough in the first place to last a long time

                  1. Sounds like a lucky briefcase Mr. Kurtz. If you ever grow tired of it, I have an address you can send it too. 😁.

                    Do lawyers run in your family? I tend to find lawyers run-in family groups, same with the doctors, and the financiers.

                    Someone gave me a coin, I have that for good luck, in my purse. And a rock from outer space, that one stays in my car.

                    I didn’t mind the guy with the recyclable bag either. I thought, well, those bags are useful. I thought, maybe his bag broke, or maybe the dog ate it, or maybe he just finds the strap more comfortable on that green one. Idk. Lots of reasons ppl do stuff.

                    1. yes we have lawyers in abundance going back many generations
                      i was lucky i guess. or not; i could have made better money in business
                      once i thought i would escape this thing but then they pulled me back in

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UneS2Uwc6xw

                      most opportunities are a 2 edged sword. you take the bitter with the sweet., you pay your dues no matter what path you choose.

                    2. Interesting, Mr. Kurtz. I’ve noticed that, my mom is a lawyer, my dad is a lawyer, all 3 of my brothers are lawyers. I have found those with so better on the LSAT too. The nature vs nurture, when you’re around it a lot, as in logic-based types, hearing it your whole life…

                      Which means, I should have sold snow to Eskimos…

                      I appreciate the Godfather clip. 👍

                    3. I need a new phone, this series 6 phone is done, and PCS gave me the Grammarly hint. You should see some of the spellings and glitches I get on Grammarly. Sometimes the keyboard had a mind of its own… And types by itself. Pressing all sorts of buttons. Not to be outdone by my cars radio that changes the channel on me or blast the volume up and down….or the countless times I try to check out at the grocery store and they go, sorry, but our computer is frozen….im like yes, yes, story of my life….ill wait, 10 minutes…this is a rant of frustration…

    2. Funny stuff, all right. You wanted to enter the sanctuary where the remains of St. Peter are interred, one of the most-sacred places for Christians, but the Vatican has found it necessary to make rules about proper attire in this sacred space, because funny guys like you have no respect either for the place and what it stands for or the rules. Because, after all, what’s more important–being respectful of the dignity and decorum of St. Peter’s final resting place, or your need to prevail? So funny guy finds a way around, so he can walk around exposing his legs anyway, knowing that this is offensive to the Vatican. Yeah, so much for rules. In case no one else in your universe has clued you in: you are an axxhole.

      We went to the Basilica of St. Catherine of Siena with a group, and there was a sign posted that no flash photography was allowed where St. Catherine’s severed head was displayed. She was beheaded for her faith. They turned on a special light that would provide enough light, but a jerk in the group used a flash anyway. An Italian Guard literally picked him up and shook him like a rag doll, yelling in Italian.

      When we went to the Galleria Accademia in Florence to see Michelangelo’s David, there was a long line and a group of school children was at the front who appeared to be inner-city Americans. One of them turned her back on the statute and leaned against the glass barrier. People had been waiting in line for hours to view this masterpiece, and she had so little interest or respect that she couldn’t be bothered to even look at it. Italian guards picked her up bodily and literally threw her out into the street via a special door nearby probably installed just for this purpose.

      You want to know why some Europeans have no respect for Americans? It’s people like you and the two jerks I just described who have no respect for the rules. We have nothing remotely comparable to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Basilica of St. Catherine of Siena or Michelangelo’s David in this country, and a substantial number of American tourists have no respect.

      1. I agreed with Natch for once until the last paragraph. when she gets in a dig against our fellow Americans who act stupidly. But the truth is people of all nations lack in respect for sacred spaces.

        The French revolutionaries desecrated the tombs of many saints, confiscated churches, executed religious clerly

        The Russian communists did too

        The Spanish communists of the civil war era dragged out priests and nuns to to kill and took churches

        The Mexican government executed any number of priests

        during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s the Chinese “Red Guard” desecrated the tomb of the Duke of Zhou and various other Confucian quasi religious sites. Just more commie bad behavior, eh?

        But we can go back a long ways to see the disrespect of religious people and spaces including some from our own Anglo-Saxon heritage. Queen Elizabeth did in a few priests if I recall

        Henry VIII kept the sacred spaces, sacred, sort of, after he confiscate them all and declared himself English pope

        and of course long before them the Christians were not very nice. St Boniface cut down Donar’s Oak, Charlemagne cut the head of the Saxon chiefs would would not submit to him and accept conversion, such stories go on and on.

        these days I don’t worry too much about such things. However, two last recollections.
        I was at Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and I saw a thick crowd of asians taking flash pictures and talking loudly. I think they were Japanese. There were plenty of other various nationals goofing off too.

        But this reminds me of the time I was at Punchbowl cemetary in Hawaii and the Japanese tourists were laughing and cackling loudly. That one enflamed me badly. Imagine all the Americans killed by Japanese and they sounded like they were having a party. Really despicable.

        1. For once, we are kind of on the same page. Japanese tour organizers routinely schedule trips to churches in Harlem and other mostly African American churches so they can experience, first-hand, real Gospel music. They don’t seem to understand that these are genuine expressions of faith–not entertainment, and from what I read, they are disrespectful–taking pictures, talking, etc..

        2. Not Japanese but spoke the language and lived there for 4 years. I was there I learned what the term Ugly American meant.

          I recall the day when I happened on a gaggle of American Tourists saying “why can’t these damn foreigners speak English like we do?”

          I also managed a national forest camp ground and our worst guests were, in order highest to lowest, French, German and English. Never had a problem with the Asians with the exception of our fish and game laws.

          Guess it all depends on where you are at the time

          But that’s not why I’m commenting. As a Christian who closely studies God’s Word I believe that only God/Jesus can absolve/forgive sins against God/Jesus. Yes we can and should forgive sins that others commit against us but only God/Jesus can forgive the sins encompassed by the 10 Commandments for they are transgressions against Him.

          1. As a Christian who closely studies God’s Word I believe that only God…

            Pleased to meet you. Perhaps you can answer a question about “God’s Word” since I too am a Christian (actually something better, I am Catholic). For the life of me I cant seem to find the word Trinity anywhere in the Good Book. Yet we Christians believe without any doubt in a Triune God as articulated by the Early Church Fathers (e.g. St Gregory of Nyssa). But if we believe in the teachings of the Early Church Fathers, that means we believe in Sacred Tradition and not just Sola Scriptura or “the Bible”

            Can you help a sinner out?

            As to Confession, since we agree that the Early Church Fathers have contributed to our understanding of God’s Word (e.g. Trinity), meaning our Christian Faith stands on the Two Pillars of Sacred Scripture & Sacred Tradition (i.e. Roman Catholicism), I provide the following for both you and the Catholic One, Jonathan Turley, for your edification.

            NB: if Mespo, Kurtz, Allan or Karen already provided the following quotes from the Church Fathers, since, wouldn’t you know, they too were raised Catholic, then perhaps all of this will help me receive a Plenary Indulgence. God knows this blog leads me to sin

            😉

            Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (suspensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

            THE DIDACHE
            “Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure” (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).

            THE LETTER OF BARNABAS
            “You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light” (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).

            IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
            “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ” (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

            “For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop” (ibid., 8).

            IRENAEUS
            “[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses” (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]).

            TERTULLIAN
            “[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness” (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]).

            HIPPOLYTUS
            “[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command” (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]).

            ORIGEN
            “[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, ‘I said, “To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity”’” (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248

            BASIL THE GREAT
            “It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles” (Rules Briefly Treated 288 [A.D. 374]).

            JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
            “Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.’ Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven? ‘Whose sins you shall forgive,’ he says, ‘they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men [Matt. 10:40; John 20:21–23]. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven” (The Priesthood 3:5 [A.D. 387]).

            AMBROSE OF MILAN
            “For those to whom [the right of binding and loosing] has been given, it is plain that either both are allowed, or it is clear that neither is allowed. Both are allowed to the Church, neither is allowed to heresy. For this right has been granted to priests only” (Penance 1:1 [A.D. 388]).

            JEROME
            “If the serpent, the devil, bites someone secretly, he infects that person with the venom of sin. And if the one who has been bitten keeps silence and does not do penance, and does not want to confess his wound . . . then his brother and his master, who have the word [of absolution] that will cure him, cannot very well assist him” (Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10:11 [A.D. 388]).

            AUGUSTINE
            “When you shall have been baptized, keep to a good life in the commandments of God so that you may preserve your baptism to the very end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin, but they are venial sins which this life is never without. Baptism was instituted for all sins. For light sins, without which we cannot live, prayer was instituted. . . . But do not commit those sins on account of which you would have to be separated from the body of Christ. Perish the thought! For those whom you see doing penance have committed crimes, either adultery or some other enormities. That is why they are doing penance. If their sins were light, daily prayer would suffice to blot them out. . . . In the Church, therefore, there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptisms, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance” (Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15, 8:16 [A.D. 395]).

        3. Mr. Kurtz, No, Queen Mary did in a lot of protestants. Queen Elizabeth, the First, was for the most part, much more restrained. There was a horrific episode after a rebellion where she had a significant number of people, many probably unjustly, executed, which was pretty much normal practice at the time. Apart from that she executed far fewer over the course of her long reign than Mary did in her short reign. Lizzie’s lot were executed for treason, not religion, although their religion had a lot to do with their treason!

          1. From Tim Staples, at Catholic Answers:

            The Lord declares in Isaiah 43:25:

            I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

            Psalm 103:2-3 adds:

            Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…

            Many will use these verses against the idea of confession to a priest. God forgiving sins, they will claim, precludes the possibility of there being a priest who forgives sins. Further, Hebrews 3:1 and 7:22-27 tell us Jesus is, “the… high priest of our confession” and that there are not “many priests,” but one in the New Testament—Jesus Christ. Moreover, if Jesus is the “one mediator between God and men” (I Tim. 2:5), how can Catholics reasonably claim priests act in the role of mediator in the Sacrament of Confession?

            BEGINNING WITH THE OLD
            The Catholic Church acknowledges what Scripture unequivocally declares: it is God who forgives our sins. But that is not the end of the story. Leviticus 19:20-22 is equally unequivocal:

            If a man lies carnally with a woman… they shall not be put to death… But he shall bring a guilt offering for himself to the Lord… And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.

            Apparently, a priest being used as God’s instrument of forgiveness did not somehow take away from the fact that it was God who did the forgiving. God was the first cause of the forgiveness; the priest was the secondary, or instrumental cause. Thus, God being the forgiver of sins in Isaiah 43:25 and Psalm 103:3 in no way eliminates the possibility of there being a ministerial priesthood established by God to communicate his forgiveness.

            OUT WITH THE OLD
            Many Protestants will concede the point of priests acting as mediators of forgiveness in the Old Testament. “However,” they will claim, “The people of God had priests in the Old Testament. Jesus is our only priest in the New Testament.” The question is: could it be that “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) did something similar to that which he did, as God, in the Old Testament? Could he have established a priesthood to mediate his forgiveness in the New Testament?

            IN WITH THE NEW
            Just as God empowered his priests to be instruments of forgiveness in the Old Testament, the God/man Jesus Christ delegated authority to his New Testament ministers to act as mediators of reconciliation as well. Jesus made this remarkably clear in John 20:21-23:

            Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

            Having been raised from the dead, our Lord was here commissioning his apostles to carry on with his work just before he was to ascend to heaven. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” What did the Father send Jesus to do? All Christians agree he sent Christ to be the one true mediator between God and men. As such, Christ was to infallibly proclaim the Gospel (cf. Luke 4:16-21), reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16); and especially, he was to redeem the world through the forgiveness of sins (cf. I Peter 2:21-25, Mark 2:5-10).

            The New Testament makes very clear that Christ sent the apostles and their successors to carry on this same mission. To proclaim the gospel with the authority of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-20), to govern the Church in His stead (cf. Luke 22:29-30), and to sanctify her through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (cf. John 6:54, I Cor. 11:24-29) and for our purpose here, Confession.

            John 20:22-23 is nothing more than Jesus emphasizing one essential aspect of the priestly ministry of the apostles: To Forgive men’s sins in the person of Christ— “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained.” Moreover, auricular confession is strongly implied here. The only way the apostles could either forgive or retain sins is by first hearing those sins confessed, and then making a judgment whether or not the penitent should be absolved.

            TO FORGIVE OR TO PROCLAIM?
            Many Protestants and various quasi-Christian sects claim John 20:23 must be viewed as Christ simply repeating “the great commission” of Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:47 using different words that mean the same thing:

            Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

            … and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations…

            Commenting on John 20:23 in his book, Romanism—The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (White Horse Publications, Huntsville Alabama, 1995), p. 100, Protestant Apologist Robert Zins writes:

            It is apparent that the commission to evangelize is tightly woven into the commission to proclaim forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ.

            Mr. Zin’s claim is that John 20:23 is not saying the apostles would forgive sins; rather, that they would merely proclaim the forgiveness of sins. The only problem with this theory is it runs head-on into the text of John 20. “If you forgive the sins of any… if you retain the sins of any.” The text cannot say it any clearer: this is more than a mere proclamation of the forgiveness of sins—this “commission” of the Lord communicates the power to actually forgive the sins themselves.

            FREQUENT CONFESSION
            The next question for many upon seeing the plain words of St. John is, “Why don’t we hear any more about Confession to a priest in the rest of the New Testament?” The fact is: we don’t need to. How many times does God have to tell us something before we’ll believe it? He only gave us the proper form for baptism once (Matt. 28:19), and yet all Christians accept this teaching.

            But be that as it may, there are multiple texts that deal with Confession and the forgiveness of sins through the New Covenant minister. I will cite just a few of them:

            II Cor. 2:10:

            And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ (DRV).

            Many may respond to this text by quoting modern Bible translations, e.g., the RSVCE:

            What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ (emphasis added).

            St. Paul, it is argued, is simply forgiving someone in the way any layperson can forgive someone for wrongs committed against him. The Greek word—prosopon—can be translated either way. And I should note here that good Catholics will argue this point as well. This is an understandable and valid objection. However, I do not concur with it for four reasons:

            1. Not only the Douay-Rheims, but the King James Version of the Bible—which no one would accuse of being a Catholic translation—translates prosopon as “person.”

            2. The early Christians, who spoke and wrote in Koine Greek, at the Councils of Ephesus (AD 431) and Chalcedon (AD 451), used prosopon to refer to the “person” of Jesus Christ.

            3. Even if one translates the text as St. Paul pardoning “in the presence of Christ,” the context still seems to indicate that he forgave the sins of others. And notice: St. Paul specifically said he was not forgiving anyone for offenses committed against him (see II Cor. 2:5). Any Christian can and must do this. He said he did the forgiving “for [the Corinthian’s] sakes” and “in the person (or presence) of Christ.” The context seems to indicate he is forgiving sins that do not involve him personally.

            4. Just three chapters later, St. Paul gives us the reason why he could forgive the sins of others: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:18). Some will argue that “the ministry of reconciliation” of verse 18 is identical to “the message of reconciliation” in verse 19. In other words, St. Paul is simply referring to a declarative power here. I don’t agree. I argue St. Paul uses distinct terms precisely because he is referring to more than just “the message of reconciliation,” but the same ministry of reconciliation that was Christ’s. Christ did more than just preach a message; he also forgave sins.

            James 5:14-17:

            Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain… and… it did not rain…

            When it comes to one “suffering;” St. James says, “Let him pray.” “Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.” But when it comes to sickness and personal sins, he tells his readers they must go to the “elders”—not just anyone—in order to receive this “anointing” and the forgiveness of sins.

            Some will object and point out that verse 16 says to confess our sins “to one another” and pray “for one another.” Is not James just encouraging us to confess our sins to a close friend so we can help one another to overcome our faults?

            The context seems to disagree with this interpretation for two main reasons:

            1. St. James had just told us to go to the presbyter in verse 14 for healing and the forgiveness of sins. Then, verse 16 begins with the word therefore—a conjunction that would seem to connect verse 16 back to verses 14 and 15. The context seems to point to the “elder” as the one to whom we confess our sins.

            2. Ephesians 5:21 employs this same phrase. “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But the context limits the meaning of “to one another” specifically to a man and wife—not just anyone. Similarly, the context of James 5 would seem to limit the confession of faults “to one another” to the specific relationship between “anyone” and the “elder” or “priest” (Gr.—presbuteros).

            ONE PRIEST OR MANY?
            A major obstacle to Confession for many Protestants (me included when I was Protestant) is that it presupposes a priesthood. As I said above, Jesus is referred to in Scripture as “the apostle and high priest of our confession.” The former priests were many in number, as Hebrews 7:23 says, now we have one priest—Jesus Christ. The question is: how does the idea of priests and confession fit in here? Is there one priest or are there many?

            I Peter 2:5-9 gives us some insight:

            … and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…

            If Jesus is the one and only priest in the New Testament in a strict sense, then we have a contradiction in Sacred Scripture. This, of course, is absurd. I Peter plainly teaches all believers to be members of a holy priesthood. Priest/believers do not take away from Christ’s unique priesthood, rather, as members of his body they establish it on earth.

            FULL AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATIO
            If one understands the very Catholic and very biblical notion of participatio, these problematic texts and others become relatively easy to understand. Yes, Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and men” just as I Tim. 2:5 says. The Bible is clear. Yet, Christians are also called to be mediators in Christ. When we intercede for one another or share the Gospel with someone, we act as mediators of God’s love and grace in the one true mediator, Christ Jesus, via the gift of participatio in Christ, the sole mediator between God and men (see I Timothy 2:1-7, I Timothy 4:16, Romans 10:9-14). All Christians, in some sense, can say with St. Paul, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20)

            PRIESTS AMONG PRIESTS
            If all Christians are priests, then why do Catholics claim a ministerial priesthood essentially distinct from the universal priesthood? The answer is: God willed to call out a special priesthood among the universal priesthood to minister to his people. This concept is literally as old as Moses.

            When St. Peter taught us about the universal priesthood of all believers, he specifically referred to Exodus 19:6 where God alluded to ancient Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” St. Peter reminds us that there was a universal priesthood among the Old Testament people of God just as in the New Testament. But this did not preclude the existence of a ministerial priesthood within that universal priesthood (see Exodus 19:22, Exodus 28, and Numbers 3:1-12).

            In an analogous way, we have a universal “Royal Priesthood” in the New Testament, but we also have an ordained clergy who have priestly authority given to them by Christ to carry out his ministry of reconciliation as we have seen.

            TRULY AWESOME AUTHORITY
            A final couple of texts we will consider are Matt. 16:19 and 18:18. Specifically, we’ll examine the words of Christ to Peter and the apostles: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” As CCC 553 says, Christ here communicated not only authority “to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church,” but also “the authority to absolve sins” to the apostles.

            These words are unsettling, even disturbing, to many. And understandably so. How could God give such authority to men? And yet he does. Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to open and shut heaven to men, clearly communicated this authority to the apostles and their successors. This is what the forgiveness of sins is all about: to reconcile men and women with their heavenly Father. CCC 1445 puts it succinctly:

            The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

      2. Y’all need to get a grip, it’s a dress code, a loose one, since they’re not enforcing it at all times. No one is spray painting the inside, or carving their name in…per Mr. Kurtz. Dress code violation, that they do not enforce, anyhow, pfft, pssh, rolls eyes, you guys crack me up. 😆

        1. Dress codes are important. dress codes identify us socially. who is a cop and who is not, etc. dress codes also help us conform our conduct properly. a work uniform makes the worker more conscientious of duty.

          there is also the issue of modesty. all the major religions have some teachings about modest for both sexes. these have underlying issues of social order and virtue.

          just because we are in the most diverse society in human history here in america, doesn’t mean that we should necessarily mock the standards and customs of other societies who practice modesty.

          I don’t mock the Amish for covering their heads, nor the Muslims. nor the men who do it either. same concept

          and if I visit their sacred spaces as a guest, i follow their dress code and rules for deportment

        2. I have no problem with scantily clad women nor social nudity. i rather like scantily clad women. i have no problem with american or european beaches. but there is a proper place and time. respect other people’s property and social spaces and their rules.

          from what, the late 1960s to now, decades of Americans who think it is their prerogative to dress any way they please in any place they please.

          well understand the rest of the world does not operate that way.

          in some places it can literally get you killed.

          this is one of the strange effects of political correctness: supposedly, one is to respect other cultures, and yet, we have all these young people and excuse me often obviously, girls, who think it is their prerogative to reveal any part of their body in order to “fight the patriarchy” or to be honest it’s usually just to attract attention and satisfy vanity

          decades ago in law school i asked a persian study group friend of mine how she reconciled her professed value of “cultural diversity” with her alleged “feminism” in terms of Muslim societies. See if all cultures must be respected, then how can feminism claim to intrude itself on foreigners?

          see for my part i am not a muslim and i am an american but I don’t really feel offended that in some countries women have to wear hijab. at the same time there are some things in Islam that are aimed at kaffirs like me and those things I will freely criticize. their teachings on modesty, to me are not troubling.

          she had no good answer and I can see that decades later much remains the same .

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