The Confessional is the Modern Sodom
IF anyone wants to hear an eloquent oration, let him go where the Roman Catholic priest is preaching on the divine institution of auricular confession. There is no subject, perhaps, on which the priests display so much zeal and earnestness, and of which they speak so often. For this institution is really the corner-stone of their stupendous power; it is the secret of their almost irresistible influence. Let the people open their eyes, to-day, to the truth, and understand that auricular confession is one of the most stupendous impostures which Satan has invented, to corrupt and enslave the world; let the people desert the confessional-box to-day, and to-morrow Romanism will fall into the dust. The priests understand this very well; hence their constant efforts to deceive the people on that question. To attain their object, they have recourse to the most egregious falsehoods; the Scriptures are misrepresented; the holy Fathers are brought to say the very contrary of what they have ever thought or written; and the most extraordinary miracles and stories are invented. But two of the arguments to which they have more often recourse, are the great and perpetual miracles which God makes to keep the purity of the confessional undefiled, and its secrets marvellously sealed. They make the people believe that the vow of perpetual chastity changes their nature, turns them into angels, and puts them above the common frailties of the fallen children of Adam.
Bravely, and with a brazen face, when they are interrogated on that subject, they say that they have special graces to remain pure and undefiled in the midst of the greatest dangers; that the Virgin Mary, to whom they are consecrated, is their powerful advocate to obtain from her Son that superhuman virtue of chastity; that what would be a cause of sure perdition to common men, is without peril and danger for a true Son of Mary; and, with amazing stupidity, the people consent to be duped, blinded, and deceived by those fooleries.
But here, let the world learn the truth as it is, from one who knows perfectly everything inside and outside the walls of that Modern Babylon. Though many, I know, will disbelieve me and say, "We hope you are mistaken; it is impossible that the priests of Rome should turn out to be such impostors; they may be mistaken; they may believe and repeat things which are not true, but they are honest; they cannot be such impudent deceivers."
Yes; though I know that many will hardly believe me, I must tell the truth.
Those very men, who, when speaking to the people in such glowing terms of the marvellous way they are kept pure, in the midst of the dangers which surround them, honestly blush—and often weep—when they speak to each other (when they are sure that nobody, except priests, hear them). They deplore their own moral degradation with the utmost sincerity and honesty; they ask from God and men, pardon for their unspeakable depravity.
I have here—in my hands, and under my eyes—one of their most remarkable secret books, written (or at least approved) by one of their greatest and best bishops and cardinals, the Cardinal de Bonald, Archbishop of Lyons.
The book is written for the use of priests alone. Its title is, in French, "Examen de Conscience des Pretres." At page 34, we read:—
"Have I left certain persons to make the declarations of their sins in such a way that the imagination, once taken and impressed by pictures and representations, could be dragged into a long course of temptations and grievous sins? The priests do not pay sufficient attention to the continual temptations caused by the hearing of confessions. The soul is gradually enfeebled in such a way that, at the end, the virtue of chastity is forever lost."
Here is the address of a priest to other priests, when he suspects that nobody but his co-sinner brethren hear him. Here is the honest language of truth.
In the presence of God those priests acknowledge that they have not a sufficient fear of those constant (what a word—what an acknowledgment—constant!) temptations, and they honestly confess that these temptations come from the hearing of the confessions of so many scandalous sins. Here the priests honestly acknowledge that those constant temptations, at the end, destroy forever in them the holy virtue of purity.*
"Ah! would to God that all the honest girls and women whom the devil entraps into the snares of auricular confession, could bear the cries of distress of those poor priests whom they have tempted—forever destroyed! Would to God that they could
* And remark, that all their religious authors who have written on that subject hold the same language. They all speak of those continual degrading temptations; they all lament the damning sins which follow those temptations; they all entreat the priests to fight those temptations and repent of those sins.
See the torrents of tears shed by so many priests, because, from the hearing of confessions, they had forever lost the virtue of purity! They would understand that the confessional is a snare, a pit of perdition, a Sodom for the priest; and they would be struck with horror and shame at the idea of the continual, shameful, dishonest, degrading temptations by which their confessor is tormented day and night—they would blush on account of the shameful sins which their confessors have committed—they would weep over the irreparable loss of their purity—they would promise before God and men that the confessional-box should never see them any more—they would prefer to be burned alive, if any sentiment of honesty and charity remained in them, rather than consent to be a cause of constant temptations and damnable sins to that man.
Would that respectable lady go any more to confess to that man, if, after her confession, she could hear him lamenting the continual, shameful temptations which assail him day and night, and the damning sins which he had committed, on account of what she has confessed to him? No! —a thousand times, no!
Would that honest father allow his beloved daughter to go any more to that man to confess, if he could hear his cries of distress, and see his tears flowing, because the hearing of those confessions is the source of constant, shameful temptations and degrading iniquities?
Oh! would to God that the honest Romanists all over the world—for there are millions, who, though, deluded, are honest—could see what is going on in the heart, and the imagination of the poor confessor when he is, there, surrounded by attractive women and tempting girls, speaking to him from morning to night on things which a man cannot hear without falling. Then, that modern but grand imposture, called the Sacrament of Penance, would soon be ended.
But here, again, who will not lament the consequences of the total perversity of our human nature? Those very same priests who, when alone, in the presence of God, speak so plainly of the constant temptations by which they are assailed, and who so sincerely weep over the irreparable loss of their virtue of purity, when they think that nobody hears them, will yet, in public, with a brazen face, deny those temptations. They will indignantly rebuke you as a slanderer if you say anything to lead them to suppose that you fear for their purity, when they hear the confessions of girls or married women!
There is not a single one of the Roman Catholic authors, who have written on that subject for the priests, who has not deplored their innumerable and degrading sins against purity, on account of the auricular confession; but those very men will be the first to try to prove the very contrary when they write books for the people. I have no words to tell what was my surprise when, for the first time, I saw that this strange duplicity seemed to be one of the fundamental stones of my Church.
It was not very long after my ordination, when a priest came to me to confess the most deplorable things. He honestly told me that there was not a single one of the girls or married women whom he had confessed, who had not been a secret cause of the most shameful sins, in thought, desires, or actions; but he wept so bitterly over his degradation, his heart seemed so sincerely broken on account of his own iniquities, that I could not refrain from mixing my tears with his; I wept with him, and I gave him pardon for all his sins, as I then thought I had the power and right to give it.
Two hours afterwards, that same priest, who was a good speaker, was in the pulpit. His sermon was on "The Divinity of Auricular Confession;" and, to prove that it was an institution coming directly from Christ, he said that the Son of God was performing a constant miracle to strengthen His priests, and prevent them from falling into sins, on account of what they might have heard in the confessional!!!
The daily abominations, which are the result of auricular confession, are so horrible and so well known by the popes, the bishops, and the priests, that several times, public attempts have been in made to diminish them by punishing the guilty priests; but all these commendable efforts have failed.
One of the most remarkable of those efforts was made by Pius IV. about the year 1560. A Bull was published by him, by which all the girls and married women who had been seduced into sins by their confessors, were ordered to denounce them; and a certain number of high church officers of the Holy Inquisition were authorized to take the depositions of the fallen penitents. The thing was, at first, tried at Seville, one of the principal cities of Spain. When the edict was first published, the number of women who felt bound in conscience to go and depose against their father confessors, was so great, that though there were thirty notaries, and as many inquisitors, to take the depositions, they were unable to do the work in the appointed time. Thirty days more were given, but the inquisitors were so overwhelmed with the numberless depositions, that another period of time of the same length was given. But this, again, was found insufficient. At the end, it was found that the number of priests who had destroyed the purity of their penitents was so great that it was impossible to punish them all. The inquest was given up, and the guilty confessors remained unpunished. Several attempts of the same nature have been tried by other popes, but with about the same success.
But if those honest attempts on the part of some well-meaning popes, to punish the confessors who destroy the purity of the penitents, have failed to touch the guilty parties, they are, in the good providence of God, infallible witnesses to tell to the world that auricular confession is nothing else than a snare to the confessor and his dupes. Yes, those Bulls of the popes are an irrefragable testimony that auricular confession is the most powerful invention of the devil to corrupt the heart, pollute the body, and damn the soul of the priest and his female penitent!