The Priest, the Woman and the Confessional


A former priest warns of the dangers of the confessional


God Compels tha Church of Rome to Confess the Abominations of Auricular Confession

THE Priests of Rome resort to various means in order to deceive the people on the immorality resulting from auricular confession. One of their favorite stratagems is to quote some disconnected passages from theologians, recommending caution on the part of the priest, in questioning his penitents on delicate subjects, should he see or apprehend any danger for the latter of being shocked by his questions. True, there are such prudent theologians, who seem to realize more than others the real danger of the priest in confession. But those wise counselors resemble very much a father who would allow his child to put his fingers in the fire, while advising him to be cautious lest he should burn those fingers. There is just as much wisdom in the one case as there would be in the other. What would you say of a brutal parent casting a young, weak and inexperienced boy among wild beasts, with the foolish and cruel expectation that his prudence might save him from injury?

Such theologians may be perfectly honest in giving such advice, although it is anything but wise or reasonable. But those are far from being honest or true who contend that the Church of Rome, in commanding everyone to confess all his sins to the priests, has made an exception in favor of sins against chastity. This is only so much dust thrown in the eyes of Protestants and ignorant people, to prevent them from seeing through the frightful mysteries of confession.

When the Council of Lateran decided that every adult, of either sex, should confess all their sins to a priest, at least once a year, there was no exceptions made for any special class of sins, not even for those committed against modesty or purity. And when the Council of Trent ratified or renewed the previous decision, no exception was made, either, of the sins in question. They were expected and ordered to be confessed, as all other sins.

The law of both Councils is still unrepealed and binding for all sins, without any exception. It is imperative, absolute; and every good Catholic, man or woman, must submit to it by confessing all his or her sins, at least once a year.

I have in my hand Butler's Catechism, approved by several bishops of Quebec. On page 62, it reads, "that all penitents should examine themselves on the capital sins, and confess them all, without exception, under penalty of eternal damnation."

The celebrated controversial catechism of Rd. Stephen Keenan, approved by all the bishops of Ireland, positively says (page 186): "The penitent must confess all his sins."

Therefore, the young and timid girl, the chaste and modest woman, must think of shameful deeds and fill their minds with impure ideas, in order to confess to an unmarried man whatever they may be guilty of, however repugnant may be to them such confession, or dangerous to the priest who is bound to hear and even demand it. No one is exempt from the loathsome, and often polluting task. Both priest and penitent are required and compelled to go through the fiery ordeal of contamination and shame. They are bound, on every particular, the one to ask, and the other to answer, under penalty of eternal damnation.

Such is the rigorous, inflexible law of the Church of Rome with regard to confession. It is taught not only in works of theology or from the pulpit, but in prayer-books and various other religious publications. It is so deeply impressed in the minds of Romanists as to have become a part of their religion. Such is the law which the priest himself has to obey, and which puts his penitents at his own discretion.

But there are husbands with a jealous disposition, who would little fancy the idea of bachelors confessing their wives, if they knew exactly what questions they have to answer in confession. There are fathers and mothers who don't like much to see their daughters alone with a man, behind a curtain, and who would certainly tremble for their honor and virtue if they knew all the abominable mysteries of confession. It is necessary, therefore, to keep these people, as much as possible, in ignorance, and prevent light from reaching that empire of darkness, the confessional. In that view, confessors are advised to be cautious "on those matters;" to "broach these questions in a sort of covert way, and with the greatest reserve." For it is very desirable "not to shock modesty, neither frighten the penitent nor grieve her. Sins, however, must be confessed."

Such is the prudent advice given to the confessor on certain occasions. In the hands or under the command of Liguori, Father Gury, Scavani, or other casuists, the priest is a sort of general, sent during the night, to storm a citadel or a strong position, having for order to operate cautiously, and before daylight. His mission is one of darkness and violence, and cruelty; above all, it is a mission of supreme cunning, for when the Pope commands, the priest, as his loyal soldier, must be ready to obey; but always with a mask or blind before him, to conceal his object. However, many a time, after the place has been captured by dint of strategy and secrecy, the poor soldier is left, badly wounded and completely disabled, on the battle-field. He has paid dearly for his victory; but the conquered citadel has also received an injury from which it may never recover. The crafty priest has gained his point: he has succeeded in persuading his lady penitent that there was no impropriety, that it was even necessary for them to have a parley on things that made her blush a few moments before. She is soon so well convinced, that she would swear that there is nothing wrong in confession. Truly this is a fulfillment of the words: "Abyssus abyssum invocat," an abyss calls for another abyss.

Have the Romish theologians -- Gury, Scavani, Liguori, etc -- ever been honest enough, in their works on confession, to say that the Most Holy God could never command or require woman to degrade and pollute herself and the priest in pouring into the ear of a frail and sinful mortal, words unfit even for an angel? No; they were very careful not to say so; for, from that very moment, their shameless lies would have been exposed; the stupendous, but weak structure of auricular confession, would fall to the ground, with sad havoc and ruin to its unholders. Men and women would open their eyes, and see its weakness and fallacy. "If God," they might say, "can forgive our most grievous sins against modesty, without confessing them, He can and will certainly do the same with those of less gravity; therefore there is no necessity or occasion for us to confess to a priest."

But those shrewd casuists knew too well that, by such frank declaration, they would soon lose their bold on Catholic populations, especially on women, by whom, through confession, they rule the world. They much prefer to keep their grip on benighted minds frightened consciences, and trembling souls. No wonder, then, that they fully endorse and confirm the decisions of the councils of Lateran and Trent, ordering "that all sins must be confessed such as God knows them." No wonder that they try their best or worst to overcome the natural repugnance of women for making such confessions, and to conceal the terrible dangers for the priests in hearing the same.

However, God, in his infinite mercy, and for the sake of truth, has compelled the Church of Rome to acknowledge the moral dangers and corrupting tendencies of auricular confession. In His eternal wisdom, He knew that Roman Catholics would close their ears to whatever might be said by the disciples of gospel truth, of the demoralising influence of that institution; that they would even reply with insult and fallacy to the words of truth kindly addressed to them, just as the Jews of old returned hatred and insult to the good Saviour who was bringing them the glad tidings of a free salvation. He knew that Romish devotees, led astray by their priests, would call the apostles of truth, liars, seducers, possessed of the devil, as Christ was constantly called a demoniac, an impostor, and finally put to death by His false accusers.

That great God, as compassionate now as He was then, for the poor benighted and deluded souls, has wrought a real miracle to open the eyes of the Roman Catholics, and compel them, as it were, to believe us, when we say, on His authority, that auricular confession was invented by Satan to ruin both the priest and his female penitents, for time and eternity. For, what we would never have dared to say of ourself to the Roman Catholics with regard to what frequently happens between their priests and their wives and daughters, either during or after confession, God has constrained the Church of Rome to acknowledge herself, in revealing things that would have seemed incredible, had they come simply from our mouth or our pen. In this, as in other instances, that apostate Church has unwittingly been the mouth-piece of God for the accomplishment of His great and merciful ends.

Listen to the questions that the Church of Rome, through her theologians, puts to every priest after he has heard the confession of your wives or daughters:

1. "Nonne inter audiendas confessiones quasdam proposui questiones circa sextum decalogi preoeceptum cum intentione libidinosa? (Miroir du Clerge, p. 582.)

"While hearing confessions, have I not asked questions on sins against the sixth (seventh in the Decalogue) commandment, with the intention of satisfying my evil passions?"

Such is the man, O mothers and daughters, to whom you dare to unbosom the most secret, as well as the most shameful actions. You kneel down at his feet and whisper in his ear your most intimate thoughts and desires, and your most polluting deeds; because your church, by dint of cunning and sophistry, has succeeded in persuading you that there was no impropriety or danger in doing so; that the man whom you choose for your spiritual guide and confident, could never be tempted or tainted by such foul recitals. But that same Church, through some mysterious providence, is made to acknowledge, in her own books, her own lies. In spite of herself, she admits that there is real danger in confession, both for the woman and for the priest; that willingly or otherwise, and sometimes both unawares, they lay for each other dangerous snares. The Church of Rome, as if she had an evil conscience for allowing her priest to hold such close and secret converse with a woman, on such delicate subjects, keeps, as it were, a watchful eye on him, while the poor misguided woman is pouring in his ear the filthy burden of her soul; and as soon as she is off, questions the priest as to the purity of his motives, the honesty of his intentions in putting the requisite questions. "Have you not," she asks him immediately, "under the pretence of helping that woman in her confession, put to her certain questions simply in order to gratify your lust, and with the object of satisfying your evil propensities?"

2. "Nonne munus audiendi confessiones suscepi, aut veregi ex prava incontinentioe appettentia (Idem, p. 582.) "Have I not repaired to the confessional and heard confessions with the intention of gratifying my evil passions? (Miroir du Clerge, p. 582.)

O ye women! who tremble like slaves at the feet of the priests, you admire the patience and charity of those good (?) priests, who are willing to spend so many long and tedious hours in hearing the confession of your secret sins; and you hardly know how to express your gratitude for so much kindness and charity. But, hush, listen to the voice of God speaking to the conscience of the priest, through the Church of Rome!

"Have you not," she asks him, "heard the confession of women simply to foster or gratify the grovelling passions of your fallen nature and corrupt heart?"

Please notice, it is not I, or the enemies of your religion, who put to your priests the above questions; it is God Himself, who, in His pity and compassion for you, compels your own Church to ask such questions; that your eyes may be opened, and that you may be rescued from all the dangerous obscenities and the humiliating and degrading slavery of auricular confession. It is God's will to deliver you from such bondage and degradation. In His tender mercies He has provided means to drag you out of that cesspool, called confession; to break the chains which bind you to the feet of a miserable and blasphemous sinner called confessor, who, under the pretence of being able to pardon your sins, usurps the place of your Saviour and your God! For while you are whispering your sins in his ear, God says to him through his Church, in tones loud enough to be heard: "In hearing the confession of these women, are you not actuated by lust, spurred by evil passions?"

Is this not sufficient to warn you of the danger of auricular confession? Can you now, with any sense of safety or propriety, come to that priest, for whom your very confession may be a snare, a cause of fall or fearful temptation? Can you, with a particle of honor or modesty, willingly expose yourself to the impure desires of your confessors? Can you, with any sort of womanly dignity, consent to entrust that man with your inmost thoughts and desires, your most humiliating and secret actions, when you know from your own Church's lips, that that man may not have any higher object in listening to your confession than a lustful curiosity, or a sinful desire of exciting his evil passions?

3. "Nonne ex auditis in confessione occasionem sumpsi poenitentes utriusque sexus ad peccandum sollicitandi?" (Idem, p. 582.)

"Have I not availed myself of what I heard in confession to induce my penitents of both sexes to commit sin?"

I would run a great risk of being treated with the utmost contempt, should I dare to put to your priests such a question. You would very likely call me a scoundrel, for daring to question the honesty and purity of such holy men. You would, perhaps, go as far as to contend that it is utterly impossible for them to be guilty of such sins as are alluded to in the above question; that never such shameful deeds have been perpetrated through confession. And you would, maybe, emphatically deny that your confessor has ever said or done anything that might lead you to sin or even commit any breach of propriety or modesty. You feel perfectly safe on that score, and see no danger to apprehend.

Let me tell you, good ladies, that you are altogether too confident, and thus you are kept in the most fatal delusion. Your own Church, through the merciful and warning voice of God speaking to the conscience of your own theologians, tells you that there is a real and imminent danger, where you fancy yourself in perfect security. You may never have suspected the danger, but it is there, within the walls of the confessional; nay, more, it is lurking in your very hearts, and that of your confessor. He may hitherto have refrained from tempting you; he may, at least, have kept within the proper limits of outward morality or decency. But nothing warrants you that he may not be tempted; and nothing could shield you from his attempts on your virtue, should he give way to temptation, as cases are not wanting to prove the truth of my assertion. You are sadly mistaken in a false and dangerous security. You are, although unawares, on the very brink of a precipice, where so many have fallen through their blind confidence in their own strength, or their confessor's prudence and sanctity. Your own Church is very anxious about your own safety; she trembles for your innocence and purity. In her fear, she cautions the priest to be watchful over his wicked passions and human frailty. How dare you pretend to be stronger and more holy than your confessor is in the mind of your own Church? Why should you so wilfully imperil your chastity or modesty? Why expose yourself to danger, when it could be so easily avoided? How can you be so rash, so devoid of common prudence and modesty as to shamelessly put yourselves in a position to tempt and be tempted, and thereby incur your temporal and eternal perdition?

4. "Nonne extra tribunal, vel, in ipso confess

ionis actu, aliuqia dixi aut egi cum Intenticne diabolica has personas seducendi?" (Idem, idem).

"Have I not, either during or after confession, done or said certain things with a diabolical intention of seducing my female patients?"

"What arch enemy of our holy religion is so bold and impious as to put to our saintly priests such an impudent and insulting question?" may ask some of our Roman Catholic readers. It is easy to answer. This great enemy of your religion is no less than a justly offended God, admonishing and reproving your priests for exposing both you and themselves to dangerous allurements and seductions. It is His voice speaking to their consciences, and warning them of the danger and corruption of auricular confession. It says to them: Beware! for ye might be tempted, as surely you will be, to do or say something against honor and purity.

Husbands and fathers! who rightly value the honor of your wives and daughters more than all treasures, who consider it too precious a boon to be exposed to the dangers of pollution, and who would prefer to lose your life a thousand times, than to see those you love most on earth fall in the snares of the seducer, read once more and ponder what your Church asks the priest, after he has heard your wife and daughter in confession: "Have you not, either during or after confession, done or said something with a diabolical intention of seducing your female patients?"

If your priest remains deaf to these words addressed to his conscience, you cannot help giving heed to them and understanding their full significance. You cannot be easy and fear nothing from that priest in those close interviews with your wives and daughters, when his superiors and your own Church tremble for him, and question his purity and honesty. They see a great danger for both the confessor and his penitent; for they know that confession has, many a time, been the pretence of the cause of the most shameful seductions.

If there were no real danger for the chastity of women, in confessing to a man their most secret sins, do you believe that your popes and theologians would be so stupid as to acknowledge it, and put to confessors questions that would be most insulting and out of place, should there be no occasion for them?

Is it not presumption and folly, on your part, to think that there is no danger, when the Church of Rome tells you, positively, that there is danger, and uses the strongest terms in expressing her uneasiness and apprehension?

Why! your Church sees the most pressing reasons to fear for the honor of your wives and daughters, as well as for the chastity of her priests; and still you remain unconcerned, indifferent to the fearful peril to which they are exposed! Are you like the Jewish people of old, to whom it was said: "Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not?" (Isa. vi. 9).

But if you see or suspect the danger you are warned of; if the eye of your intelligence can fathom the dreadful abyss where the dearest objects of your heart are in danger of falling, then it behooves you to keep them from the paths that lead to the fearful chasm. Do not wait till it is too late, when they are too near the precipice to be rescued. You may think the danger to be far off, while it is near at hand. Profit by the sad experience of so many victims of confession who have been irretrievably lost, irrecoverably ruined for time and eternity. The voice of your conscience, of honor, of God Himself, tells you that it may soon become too late to save them from destruction, through your neglect and procrastination. While thanking God for having preserved them from temptations that have proved fatal to so many married or unmarried women, do not lose a single moment in taking the necessary means to keep them from temptation and falls.

Instead of allowing them to go and kneel at the feet of a man to obtain the remission of their sins, lead them to the dying Saviour's feet, the only place where they can secure pardon and peace everlasting. And why, after so many unfruitful attempts, should they try any longer to wash themselves in a puddle, when the pure waters of eternal life are offered them so freely through Christ Jesus, their only Saviour and Mediator?

Instead of seeking their pardon from a poor and miserable sinner, weak and tempted as they are, let them go to Christ, the only strong and perfect man, the only hope and salvation of the world.

O poor deluded Catholic women! listen no longer to the deceiving words of the Church of Rome, who has no pardon, no peace for you, but only snares; who offers you thraldom and shame in return for the confession of your sins! But listen rather to the invitations of your Saviour, who has died on the cross, that you might be saved; and who, alone, can give rest to your weary souls.

Hearken to His words, when He says to you: "Come unto Me, O ye heavily laden, crushed, as it were, under the burden of your sins, and I shall give you rest. . . I am the Physician of your souls. . . Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. . . Come, then, to Me, and ye shall be healed. . . I have not sent back nor lost any who have come to Me. . . invoke My name. . . believe in Me. . . repent. . . love God, and your neighbor as yourself, and you shall be saved. . . For all who believe in Me and call upon My name, shall be saved. . . .When I am raised up between heaven and earth, I shall draw every one to Me. . . ."

Oh, mothers and daughters, instead of going to the priest for pardon and salvation, go to Jesus, who is so pressingly inviting you! and the more so as you have more need of divine help and grace. Even, if you are as great a sinner as Mary Magdalene, you can, like her, wash the feet of the Saviour with the flowing tears of your repentance and your love, and like her, receive the pardon of your sins.

To Jesus, then, and to Him alone, go for the confession and pardon of your sins; for there, only, you can find peace, light, and life for time and eternity!

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