The Pope Says Priests Can Forgive Abortion. What’s the Big Deal?

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.”

So, Pope Francis announced that priests can grant absolution for abortion.

Most American Catholics find this confusing. Where else would they go for confession and absolution?

Here’s the deal.

Abortion is one of those few sins that are “reserved.” “Reserved” means that forgiveness of such sins is reserved to the local bishop. This is a reflection of how seriously the Church takes the sin of abortion; how grave it is to kill a helpless unborn child.

That does not mean that the only sin is that of the woman who has the abortion. The sin of abortion is also committed by the abortionist who performs the abortion, the girlfriend who goes to the abortion with the woman, the boyfriend who tells her “get rid of it,” and the boss who threatens to fire her because she’s pregnant. Everyone involved in an abortion is considered excommunicate.

In truth and in fact, it takes a lot of people to kill an unborn baby. The guilt is like a drop of wine, spreading on a tablecloth. If we want to get really serious about this, politicians who vote against job security for pregnant women, schools who expel them, neighbors who shun them, and publications who make money from baiting and attacking women who are “caught” with an embarrassing proof of their sexual activity in the form of a baby are all, at least to some extent, culpable for the sin of abortion. They may not be excommunicated, but when they stand before God, their actions will go into the account of their lives.

Churches who kick pregnant girls out of their fellowship — and I’ve seen this, up close and personal — are also doing their bit to add to the shame women feel that drives them to try to cover it with abortion.

Abortion is, in many ways, one of the most social of sins.

Perhaps that’s why most American bishops do not “reserve” the sin of abortion, but grant all priests under obedience to them the ability to grant absolution for abortion. If they kept this sin reserved to themselves, they would do little else besides hear confessions concerning abortion.

I’m drawing this explanation out to make a several points. First, there is no sin that Christ can not wash away with His mercy. Second, the Church is the reliable fount of that mercy. Third, none of us has the right to get all high and mighty about the sinfulness of other people.

We need to look into our own hearts and ask God to forgive our own sins. And then we need to tell other people that love and mercy are waiting for them. All they need to do is turn to Him.

I believe this is the message that Pope Francis is trying to convey with this grant of a universal ability to forgive the sin of abortion to every priest, everywhere. The message is that no matter what you have done, Jesus loves you. He can and will forgive you and make you new again. The most direct and sure means to seek His forgiveness is through the gateway of confession.

If you have an abortion on your heart, now is the time to let Jesus wash you clean of your guilt and shame. You do not need to carry this burden through your life. You do not need to hide behind your facade of anger any longer.

Turn to Jesus. Go to the cross.

And be forgiven.

From Vatican Radio:

In the letter Pope Francis specifically turns his attention to women who have resorted to abortion and “bear the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” saying the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented. “For this reason – he writes – I have decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it”.

Pointing out that a Jubilee Year has often constituted an opportunity for a great amnesty, the Pope includes prisoners in his list of believers seeking pardon, whom he says, may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the jails.

And holding out the possibility of obtaining an Indulgence to the sick, the elderly, the homebound and even the deceased, the Pope never neglects to point out that the experience of mercy must be visible in works of faith, hope and charity.


Thanks to Public Catholic reader Manny, who brought this story to my attention.

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This Just In: Catholic Church Will Forgive Your Abortion

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Miran Rijavec

Christian bashers are characterized by a number of things.

First, they are bigots.

Second, they are full of hate.

Third, they very seldom get their facts straight.

Consider the headline to a story in the New York Post. Catholic Church Will Now Forgive Your Abortion it proclaims.

The New York Post has evidently learned that the Catholic Church forgives sins, and they are all agog over the discovery. They appear to think that forgiveness of mortal sins is a new fangled invention by Pope Francis. They see this as part of Pope Francis’ efforts to make the Church “relevant” to modern times.

Get an education Mr or Ms headline writer. Your bias is showing.

The Catholic Church has been in the forgiveness business for the past 2,000 years. Women who’ve had abortions go to confession and receive forgiveness every single day in the Catholic Church.

I once went to confession — and this was a couple of pope ago, I might add — for my sins related to abortion. I had a long list, and I must tell you, abortion-related sins were outnumbered. I had pretty much done in the Ten Commandments in my young life.

You know what happened? The priest told me that these were serious sins, but that I had confessed them with humility. Then he absolved me. I walked out of that confessional feeling as if the detritus of a thousand years had been lifted off me.

The Catholic Church is in the forgiveness business. It is in the following Jesus business. The Catholic Church is also in the eternal life business.

The media waxes eloquent about the ways that Pope Francis is supposedly “changing” the Church to make it more relevant. They should check their sources. Pope Francis has not and will not change one word of the consistent 2,000 year moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

That’s because Pope Francis is Peter, not Christ. Peter was a follower and Pope Francis is a follower. The Holy Father is the head follower of a billion other followers scattered around this planet. He — and we — follow a Risen Lord Who is the Way that leads to eternal life. Pope Francis follows Christ, and he is leading us in following Christ. He points the way to the Way, the Truth and Life.

The Catholic Church has always been the foremost agency that provides for the poor, educates the ignorant and heals the sick in any community in which it finds itself. These days in which we live have seen an outright attack on human life and human dignity in the guise of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, surrogacy, egg harvesting, sex trafficking, gay marriage and other moral innovations that ultimately lead to the disfigurement of the human.

Of course, the Catholic Church will stand against these things. To do otherwise would be to deny the Gospels, the prophets, and ultimately, to deny Christ Himself.

As for relevance, the media needs to think a bit more deeply. The Catholic Church is a highway to heaven. All any of us has to do is to believe and love Jesus and follow the Catholic Church and we can be assured that we are doing the right thing and are on the way to eternal life.

Is there something more “relevant” than that?

The Catholic Church is the highway to eternal life. It is the purveyor of the full witness of the Gospels, the whole Gospels, which include justice, mercy and hope for the darkest hours of our existence.

The media’s off the cuff and inaccurate analyses offer us nothing except Christian baiting bits of inaccurate and ignorant nonsense.

Christian baiters cherry pick facts and distort reality to justify their hatred of Christianity. Without severe editing of reality, their Christian bashing tropes fall over under the weight of their own lies.

Christian bashing is hate propaganda. I don’t think this particular headline is representative of everything the New York Post publishes on the subject. But it is soft Christian bashing that feeds hard Christian bashing.

There are lots of people who make their livings attacking Christianity. Hatred of Christians and Christianity is all they do.

Day after day, they write and publish blog posts that yammer at bias and bigotry against Christians and Christianity. They must spend their days combing the internet for anything they can use to attack Christians. They waste their talents on writing the filth of hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

They are to be pitied, not attacked. They have gone after the stone of death and abandoned the bread of life. It is up to us Christians to lead them to a better way, to redeem both them and this sick culture, by converting it and them, one person at a time.

The Catholic Church is the way to find the Way that leads to eternal life. I thank God for leading me to it.

From the New York Post:

Pope Francis will send an army of globe-trotting priests — his “missionaries of mercy” — to absolve women who’ve had abortions, in the latest Vatican bid to catch up with modern times.

The effort, which includes reaching out to doctors and nurses who’ve performed abortions, will commence in the Holy Year of Mercy, which Francis has declared will be celebrated between Dec. 8, 2015, and Nov. 20, 2016.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, announced the bold initiative and said the church should always be in the absolution business.

“The missionaries of mercy are priests sent out by the Holy Father . . . as a tangible sign of how a priest should be a man of pardon, close to everyone,” Fisichella said.

Vatican officials walked a tightrope on Thursday, celebrating forgiveness but standing firm that abortion is still very much against church teachings.

“There are a number of clergy with the ability to pardon abortions already, it is not that rare,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Church hard-liners warned that stepped-up efforts to forgive those involved in abortions could “cause confusion” among Catholics.

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Did the Supreme Court K-O the Seal of the Confessional?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by Josh.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by Josh.

Evidently, the Louisiana State Supreme Court woke up one morning and decided to K-O the legal protection for the seal of the confessional.

This legal privilege, which has long protected priests from prosecution for not revealing the things said to them in confession, has been under attack from zealous prosecutors. A few years ago, a prosecutor, who evidently never heard of building a case through the vast investigative powers of the government, decided to bug and record a confession between a prisoner in jail and his priest. When the prosecutor tried to enter this confession into evidence, the Catholic Church took him to court and won.

Now, the family of a young woman in the state of Louisiana has decided that they want a priest to testify as to what the young woman said to him in confession. The family has filed suit to force the priest to testify, so they can pursue a civil suit against the diocese. Since this confession was about the ugly topic of child abuse by an adult man, it raises all sorts of emotions and angers.

The Louisiana State Supreme Court basically ruled that if the person confessing reveals the confession, then the seal is broken and the priest can be forced to testify about the contents of the confession. There is precedent for this viewpoint in the attorney-client privilege. I have seen judges rule that the attorney-client privilege was broken because someone other than the attorney and client were in the room during the discussion, and then force the client to testify in court as to the contents of their conversation with their attorney.

However, the seal of the confessional is different from attorney-client privilege or doctor-patient privilege, or counselor-client privilege because it is a First Amendment right. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion without government interference. This guarantee has kept America out of the religious conflicts which have marred other societies for over 200 years.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman.

The Louisiana State Supreme Court, by attempting to treat the seal of the confessional as any other privileged conversation, put its foot right through the First Amendment. Subsequent to this, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge petitioned the United States Supreme Court to overturn this Louisiana decision.

Now comes the murky part.

The United States Supreme Court sent this whole mess back to the level of the Fifth District Court in order for that court to hear arguments.

Ever since the Supreme Court did this, I’ve been reading that they allowed the Louisiana Court’s decision to “stand.” I’ve read whole news reports saying this as a fact. I honestly thought that was what had happened.

But this is not accurate. The Supreme Court did not say, go home, Louisiana’s Supreme Court was right. They basically said, get back in line.

They sent the case, which is still alive and kicking, back to a lower court to allow both sides to have their say and present their positions. That action does not let the Louisiana State Supreme Court’s decision “stand.” It just lets everybody, on both sides, have their day in court.

I expect this decision of the Louisiana State Supreme Court to be overturned.

However, if it is not, then we are going to have to come back against this violation of our religious liberties, and we’re going to have to come back hard. This is not a parlor game. It is a matter of sending our priests to jail because they will not violate the seal of the confessional. It is a question of whether or not Catholics will be free to access the sacraments of our faith without government intrusion.

Priests will have no choice in this matter. They will have to go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional. If they don’t, the entire edifice on which the Church is built — the sacraments — will crumble. American Catholics have an absolute right to receive the sacraments without government intrusion. That right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

It is one of the essential building blocks of all our liberties as a free people.

Most of these attacks on the seal of the confessional come from over-zealous prosecutors. This particular claim comes from a family that probably feels guilty because their child was sexually abused and they did not know about it. I understand that and sympathize with it.

What I don’t understand and sympathize with is their attempt to make money off the deal with this civil suit. I also don’t understand why they are so eager to cash in that they are willing to attack one of the bedrock freedoms Americans enjoy and the sanctity of penitents’ encounters with Christ in the confessional.

They appear to be wiling to damage their country and their Church with this lawsuit. That will not heal their grief at having failed to protect their child.

The Fifth Circuit has the case now. We’ll have to wait and see what they do.

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Thou Art Peter


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This is a First Friday. Let’s take time to go to confession.

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Satanists Gave Back the Host, but We’ve Still Got a Black Mass Happening.

archbishop coakley

So, the satanists obeyed a court order and gave back the consecrated host they’d stolen.

Was it the “real” consecrated host?

All I know is that they signed a document saying it was, and that they no longer possess a consecrated Host and they will not use a consecrated Host in their ritual.

I’m guessing that if they turn around and lip off to somebody in the future, saying that they violated this court order, they might be in contempt of court (among other things). Their “priest” is a convicted felon, a sex offender. Does he really want to play that game?

Now, back to the black mass.

The short story is: It’s still on.

What that means is that our Archbishop needs all the support and backing he can get from us pew sitters.

We need to continue praying, especially the St Michael prayer.

We need to continue praying our Rosaries.

We need to go to mass and confession to keep ourselves clear from evil.

We need to show up for the Eucharistic processions.

Unless we’re having surgery or giving birth, we need to show up at St Francis of Assisi Church at 1901 NW 18 in Oklahoma City at 3 pm on September 21 for a Eucharistic Holy Hour with Archbishop Coakley.

I told a fellow Christian from another denomination this morning that this black mass is an opportunity for us to renounce Satan and all his works and take a stand for Christ.

That means all Christians, everywhere.

The fight’s not over until it’s over, and this fight ain’t over.

I support Archbishop Coakley 100%.

I hope I see you at the Eucharistic Holy Hour. It’s not often that we get to put our baptismal vows to such direct action. Don’t miss this opportunity to stand for Jesus.

Here is Archbishop Coakley’s Press Release:

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 21, 2014) – Archbishop Coakley announced Thursday that the consecrated Host at the center of a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County District Court has been returned.

An attorney representing the head of the satanic group presented the Host to a Catholic priest Thursday afternoon. The lawsuit sought return of the Host following multiple public statements by the head of the local satanic group that they planned to defile and desecrate the consecrated Host during a satanic ‘black mass’ scheduled next month in Oklahoma City.

With the return of the Host and an accompanying signed statement from the satanic group leader that the group no longer possesses a consecrated Host, nor will they use a consecrated Host in their rituals, the archbishop agreed to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice.

“I am relieved that we have been able to secure the return of the sacred Host, and that we have prevented its desecration as part of a planned satanic ritual,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “I remain concerned about the dark powers that this satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly.”

Archbishop Coakley has made repeated requests for the city’s leaders to cancel the satanic ritual in a publicly funded facility.

“I have raised my concerns … and pointed out how deeply offensive this proposed sacrilegious act is to Christians and especially to the more than 250,000 Catholics who live in Oklahoma.”

On Sept. 21, the day the satanic ritual has been scheduled, the archbishop invites the Catholic community as well as all Christians and people of good will to join him in prayer for a Eucharistic Holy Hour at 3 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1901 NW 18, followed by an outdoor Procession and Benediction.

“For more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide, the Mass is the most sacred of religious rituals,” the archbishop said. “It is the center of Catholic worship and celebrates Jesus Christ’s redemption of the world by his death and resurrection. We are grateful for the gift of the Eucharist and pray that this threatened sacrilege will heighten our appreciation and deepen our faith in the Lord’s Eucharistic presence among us.”

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The Black Mass is a Seduction. Don’t be Seduced.


I get that everyone is interested in the satanic black mass that is scheduled to happen next month in Oklahoma City.

Satan is real. I believe that. There is a malicious presence which attacks and tempts us to do horrific things, including hate the God Who made us in His own image.

The “black mass” is being advertised as a mockery of the real mass. The satanists claim that they have a consecrated Host that they are going to defile. They evidently even have a real live sex offender to do the honors.

Believe me, I “get” the symmetry of a sex offender, an assaulter and degrader of other humans and of the life force itself, “presiding” over a mockery of the mass in order to defile the Lord of all Life.

I’m there. I get it. I get it in aces and spades.

However, does anyone think that there is something new about defiling the Host? Have we all forgotten the atheist numbskulls who skulked their way into Catholic Churches to obtain consecrated Hosts in order to video themselves urinating on the hosts, flushing them down the toliet, driving nails into them and taking them to atheist conventions to be autographed by their atheist heroes? For a while there, YouTube was littered with the videos these folks made of themselves as they “performed” their act.

I grant you that this is not a deliberate calling up of Satan himself, but it was certainly a desecration.

As far as I’m concerned, every rape, every abortion, every act of egg harvesting, every time someone is subjected to medical murder by euthanasia, is a type of black mass. We are made in God’s image and this defilement of the humanity of human persons is also a defilement of Him.

Black masses, from what little bit I know about them, are a form of worship of the author of this destruction of human worth and value. These people don’t just do Satan’s work unaware like the atheist poseur videoing him or herself as they defile a consecrated Host in their bathroom, or the abortionist who thinks he or she is just performing a medical procedure, or even the rapist, who very well knows that what he is doing is evil to the core but somehow or other doesn’t think this evil defiles and damns him.

Nope. Your basic satanist calls out Satan on purpose, kneels down before him and then offers up the living Christ in a consecrated host for his mockery and defilement.

The real mass re-enacts Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary for our healing. Heaven touches earth in a real mass.

Satan’s mass tries to crucify Him again for real, in order to seduce us into wallowing in the pit of despair and damnation that Jesus lifts us out of. It is an attempt to bring hell out of the shadows and down off the television screens and catapult Satan without the disguises, Satan as himself, into our daily lives. This is a mirror image of heaven touching earth as it does in the real mass.

All this black smoke and slimy terror seduces a lot of people. It seduces them in much the same way that pornography and illicit drugs seduce, by rewarding at first with voyeuristic titillation.

My message to you is simple. Don’t be seduced.

Don’t be seduced by petty voyeurism and actually go near this slimy pit of defilement.

And don’t be seduced into feasting your prurient fantasies on the whole situation.

This is not a movie. There won’t be spinning heads and levitating beds.

This is a sex offender worshipping the malicious presence that enjoys sexual violence because of the degradation and pain it unleashes. This is an unrepentant sex offender worshipping at the only altar where his actions will be applauded. This is worship of death, pain, suffering and human destruction by defiling the Lord of Life and bending the knee to the author of death.

The symmetry is exquisite, in the same way that venom, dripping off a fang is exquisite. It is ugly as hate, revolting as a charnel house and black as annihilation.

Do not be seduced by this. Do not focus on it or give it your attention. Focus instead on the true meaning of the Eucharist in which we all are welcome to touch Him and be healed.

Pray to St Michael. Pray your Rosary. Go to mass.

Think on Christ and His sacrifice, and the salvation He offers. Bask in the light that shines in the darkness and do not let yourself be seduced by evil.

Also, don’t be afraid. Satan has already lost. He has been cast out of heaven. On Calvary, the lies he used to chain us to our destruction were broken forever. This black mass is an expression of hate directed at God through us. Its mockery is the spite of a loser who has already lost.

The fact that it is happening is, more than anything else, the culmination of all the little black masses we have allowed for decades in our society, each one pulling the door a bit wider to let the blackness through

We’ve been calling evil good and good evil at least since the Final Solution. We claim that wanton killing is a “right” bestowed on the killer in the name of “compassion.” Rape, which is a direct attack on the life force and on Our Lady who represents that life force, has been excused, promoted and used as entertainment since the curse of the Fall.

For decades now, sophisticated Christians have denied Satan’s existence. I’ve had more than one member of the clergy tut-tut at me because I say that Satan is real and active in our world today. Now, after decades of working through us to do his harm, Satan is pulling off the mask and coming out as himself.

Do not be seduced into thinking this is a side show or a form of entertainment. Do not be seduced into focusing on the evil of this mass instead of the great light that shines on us from Calvary.

Scriptures tell us in 2 Timothy, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 

Trust that spirit of power to uphold you, give free rein to the spirit of love and exercise your God-given spirit of self-discipline.

Instead of running in circles and giving Satan your attention and thought, do these things:

1. Go to confession. I mean that. GO TO CONFESSION. Treat this time as a little Lent and get yourself cleaned up.

2. Forgive your grudges. Again, I mean that. Forgive anyone you’re holding a grudge against, and that includes your ex-spouse and the guy who fired you. Do not give the devil a toehold in your heart by clinging to bad feelings about other people.

3. Pray the Rosary, the St Michael prayer and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

4. Show up for those processions Archbishop Coakley has announced. Be there and participate. Show solidarity with our Church and Our Lord.

5. Go to the Holy Hour Archbishop Coakley also announced.

6. If you do not live in Oklahoma, join us spiritually by going to Confession and Adoration and praying the St Michael Chaplet.

7. Read the Bible. Every day.

8. Go to mass. If Satan thinks so highly of the Eucharist that he wants to defile it this way, it must be important. You are cheating yourself if you don’t partake of it.

9. Never forget: This black mass, with its mockery and sacrilege, is a public acknowledgment and a testimony of how life-saving and important the real mass and Eucharist really are.

You have before you life and death.

Choose life.

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Confession, the Courts and Going to Hell


If a priest reveals what he’s heard in confession, will he go to hell?

I’ve read that a priest who violates the seal of confession suffers automatic excommunication which only the Holy See can remove. So, I would guess that a priest who reveals what he hears in confession is, at the least, in danger of hell.

That’s a serious question, for the simple reason that, in this anti-Catholic climate, we’re going to see more and more attempts to coerce priests to break the seal of confession. That would be a great triumph for Satan, since it would destroy the confidence of Catholics and break what has always been a powerful bond between them and their Church.

Catholics know that whatever they do, they can be forgiven by God. All Christians know this. But Catholics have the benefit of being able to actually confess their sins out loud and hear the words of absolution, applied directly to them. It does not matter what the sin is, they can do this in the confessional.

They also receive incredibly healing graces in this sacrament.

There is something about the cleansing power of the Sacrament of Confession that can make people who would not otherwise be able to approach communion feel worthy to do so. Confession heals, in and of itself. The sinner does not have to wonder if they’ve had the right attitude or if they’ve really been saved. All they have to do is confess and mean it. They can then draw a line under those bad things and walk out of that confessional, safe and secure in God’s grace.

All this is based on two things: The fact that Christ uses the priest for a conduit of His grace in this sacrament, and the fact that Catholics can trust that whatever they say in that confessional ends there.

I don’t know how priests deal with this burden, but I can say from my years of listening to non-sacramental confessions from thousands of constituents that God probably gives them the grace of forgetfulness. I know that I never remember the things my constituents have told me unless I need to in order to do something for them. I don’t mean I forget, exactly. I just mean that those things are not, ever, in my thoughts.

When I see the person the next time, I don’t think about or even remember what they’ve told me. It doesn’t stay in my thoughts at all. But if I need to remember for a legitimate reason, I do. I believe that is a grace that God bestows on office holders, an anointing, if you will, that allows them to keep the secrets their constituents share with them. From what I’ve seen, elected officials, no matter what rubes they may be in other ways, are very, very good at not talking about their constituents’ private matters.

I am guessing that priests experience something similar. If God gave me this grace, as an elected official, I can’t imagine why He wouldn’t give something like it to His priests who hear confessions.

That’s a good thing, because priests are more and more going to be the objects of assaults of various types in the courts. The underlying reason is that the devil is pretty much running the show in a large segment of Western society, and the devil hates priests.

If Satan can break a priest, if he can use a priest to his ends, the damage he can do to those of us in the pews is enormous. The single best way to wound the Body of Christ is to turn His ministers into weapons against the Church and the people of God.

If Satan can break the seal of the confessional, then he will, in one swoop, destroy the sacrament that bestows God’s cleansing healing on scarred and hurting souls. Of course, he can’t destroy the forgiveness and mercy of Christ. Jesus is perfectly capable of reaching into people directly. I have experienced this myself. But he can destroy the safe, reliable source of healing and forgiveness that is the sacrament of confession.

I think that’s the real reason behind the attacks on the confessional through the courts that crop up from time to time. I would guess that every priest knows that he can be drug through protracted court battles aimed at trying to get him to divulge something someone said to him in confession.

It happened a few years ago in Oregon when a prosecutor secretly taped a jailhouse confession and tried to use it in court. It’s happening in Louisiana right now as part of a civil lawsuit.

Father Jeff Bayhi is stuck between the Louisiana Supreme Court, a girl and her family who are suing for money, and going to hell.

The Supreme Court of Louisiana recently ruled that Father Bayhi must testify in court about the particulars of a confession that he may have heard in 2008. A girl, who was 14 at the time, says she confessed to him that she was being abused by a relative who is now dead. The girl’s parents are now suing Father Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge for failure to report the abuse.

This particular case has all the lightning rods in place: Priest. Sexual abuse of a minor. Failure to report.

The trouble, of course, is that the failure to report — assuming that the allegations that the girl made this confession are true — is that the lightning rods aren’t aligned the way they usually are. This isn’t about a bishop who failed to report an abusing priest. It is about a priest who — I repeat: if the confession took place as the girl claims — did not break the seal of confession.

The priest sex abuse scandal has given these particular lightning rods such drawing power that just putting the words out there in a row elicits all sorts of rage, disgust and dismissal. Priest. Sexual abuse of a minor. Failure to report. That’s a litany (if you will excuse the word) of betrayal that has been seared into the minds of everyone who hears it.

However, the Confessional is inviolate. Father Bayhi can not testify.

I can tell you that every time God has given me a chance to suffer for Him, I didn’t want it. I am not the stuff martyrs are made of. I’ve been kicked around quite a bit for my faith, and I’ve wailed and moaned and been angry about every single bit of it.

So, my heart goes out to Father Bayhi. He’s been given the awful gift of suffering for Christ. I can only imagine how terrifying and miserable all this is for him.

My grandmother used to talk about being “stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.” Father Bayhi is literally stuck between the devil and Jesus. The two things he’s got going for him are that he knows absolutely what he must do, and he’s not alone. Every faithful Catholic, everywhere, will stand behind him.

Will Father Bayhi have to go to jail? I doubt it. At some point, saner courts will probably prevail. But that’s not a sure thing. Not in today’s world.

When the New York Times can keep running ads openly attacking the Church in a manner that I can only describe as religious bigotry, and when large portions of the media are willing to publish vitriolic and categorically bigoted attacks on prominent Catholics for being Catholics, then anything is possible.

Father Bayhi and all our priests need our prayers. We need to stick together and stand up for one another.

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Former Communist Leader Recants at the End, Receives Last Rites

There will be rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Jesus Christ

There must have been rejoicing in heaven a few weeks ago. That’s when Wojeiech Jaruzelski, the former Communist dictator or Poland asked for last rites.

Mr Jaruzelski was also the former and the commander of the Soviet Military forces that put down an attempted move toward democracy in Czechoslovakia. He was an avowed atheist for most of his adult life.  

True to its way of doing things, the Church accepted him back and rejoiced in his salvation. Mr Jaruzelski died May 25, following a stroke and was given a funeral Mass on May 30. He had recanted of his atheism and asked for the rites of the Church two weeks before his death. 

“What a … beautiful thing, that the head of the government which was at war with the Church should in the end be reconciled with the Church. That’s cause to ring the bells of glory, isn’t it?” said Fr Raymond Gawronski. 

From CNA:

.- The recent funeral Mass said for Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was a Polish military commander and communist politician during the Cold War, has been received as an occasion for rejoicing.

“What a very odd but beautiful thing, that the head of the government which was at war with the Church should in the end be reconciled with the Church. That’s cause to ring the bells of glory, isn’t it?” said Fr. Raymond Gawronski, a priest of Society of Jesus’ Maryland province and a Polish-American, in an interview this month with CNA.

Jaruzelski, who was for many years an avowed atheist, died May 25 following a stroke. He was given a funeral Mass in Warsaw May 30, said by Bishop Jozef Guzdek of the Polish Military Ordinariate.

A priest at the ordinariate’s cathedral announced that two weeks prior to his death, Jaruzelski had requested last rites.

Jaruzelski was born in 1923 to a prominent Catholic family of Poland, and shortly after country’s invasion by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he and his family were deported to Siberia, and he was later made to work in coal mines in Kazakhstan.

Before World War II ended, he had joined the Soviet-backed Polish army to fight the Nazis. He continued to fight the anti-communist Polish Home Army after the world war, defending the Soviet-backed Polish government.

Jaruzelski formally joined Poland’s communist party in 1948, and 20 years later became Poland’s defense secretary; that year, he occupied Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring, an effort at democratization.

In 1981, he seized power in Poland and soon declared martial law in an effort to suppress Solidarity, an anti-communist trade union inspired by Catholic social doctrine. Tens of thousands were arrested, and some 100 were killed in the crackdown; Jaruzelski’s imposition of martial law lasted until 1983.

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Archbishop Carlson’s Deposition Reveals a Painful Truth: He’s Just Like Us


It’s a bitter pill for Catholics, watching the videos of Archbishop Carlson’s testimony.

I understand and share the emotions it raises.

But we do not serve ourselves or our Church by pretending that it ain’t so. We’ve got to face this because it is reality. It doesn’t change in any way the simple fact that Jesus said “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

What it changes is the blind notion that many Catholics have — that we all want to have — that our religious leaders are sinless Christ figures themselves.

They’re just people, just like us. They are conduits of the graces of the sacraments. God can and does reach through them and into us when we go to them for support and help in our troubles.

But the miracle in that is all on God, not on them. They don’t create the miracle, they don’t control the grace. I know from personal experience that God can reach out and touch anyone, anytime. I believe that all that’s needed on our parts is a willing heart. All we have to do to receive God’s healing grace is say yes to it.

Why, then, a priesthood? If God can reach directly into us Himself then why do we need priests who are conduits of grace?

Because the priesthood is God’s instrument for bestowing this grace in an understandable, predictable and accessible way. I think that the emotionalism that is sometimes exhibited in some churches is an attempt to re-create that first transforming moment of grace when they originally said yes. It is an attempt to touch God and feel it again by using our own emotions to elevate ourselves to that level.

Priest distributes Holy Communion large

The Eucharist gives us that healing moment of grace, that experience of touching God, of feeling Christ, without any effort on our part. All we have to do is say yes and partake. It is the same with confession. Confession bestows healing grace. So much so that there have been times, including long periods when I was feeling especially challenged, that I went to confession every week, even though my sins were not so grave, because I needed that encounter with Christ, that healing grace that confession gives.

Sacramental confession strengthens us in an almost unfelt way. The more often we go to confession, the stronger we are in resisting evil. In fact, my experience has been that if I confess something on a regular basis, I stop wanting to do it. It takes a bit of time, but that’s what happens.

These graces, as well as the graces of the other sacraments, flow through the priest in a way that is simple for those of us who receive it. We don’t have to understand theology. We don’t have to work ourselves into an emotional high. All we have to do is say yes and accept the grace that is freely given to us.

The crowning moment of grace is always the Eucharist, which is direct contact with Christ. So far as I’m concerned — and I’m not a theologian, so this applies only to me and my understanding — the Church is the Eucharist. And we are the eucharist. Because the Eucharist is Christ. The priesthood exists to bestow grace. Priests are conduits of grace, and it does not matter what kind of hooligan they are personally, the graces of the sacraments flow through them to us, regardless.

Which brings me back to Archbishop Carlson. I wouldn’t call him a hooligan. In fact, I’m not sure how to label him. I don’t want to label him and his faults. It is enough for me that this is the situation in which we find ourselves, him and us. Because at this point, that’s what it’s about: Him and us.

Not, Jesus and us, or even the Church and us. But poor, messed up Archbishop Carlson and us. We don’t have to decide what to do about Archbishop Carlson. What we are tasked with is determining how we are going to relate to our dear Church in the light of the obvious fact that our leaders are ordinary people.

They can be cowards. Just like us.

They can be craven. Just like us.

They can lie, cheat, steal and run away when they get in trouble. Just like us.

They can gossip and betray confidences, hold grudges and be spiteful. Just like us.

They are not Christ.

What they are is men who have consented to be the conduits of grace to Christ’s Church, which is us. There is a moment when heaven comes to earth and the Eucharist becomes His Body, His blood, in which the divine flows through them.

The fact that a few of them become callous about this and begin to devalue it and even start thinking that it is all about them and not Jesus, does not change the impact it has on us. The Eucharist is still real, even if the priest is a messed-up welter of confusion and sin.

Archbishop Carlson reveals himself to be a lawyered-up citizen who ducks and covers under oath in an act of self defense. I have no idea why he didn’t do the obvious thing and exercise his right to take the Fifth Amendment. It would have been far less damaging to his credibility than this performance.

You can find the full text of his deposition here. Many of the salient comments are highlighted to make them easy to find.


There really isn’t any point in trying to find an “out” for Archbishop Carlson in this. The deposition speaks for itself. Besides, it’s not our job to judge Archbishop Carlson. Our job is the much tougher one of working out how to be a faithful Catholic in a world of fallen leaders, including our leaders in the Church.

How do we follow these men when they are so nothing special as this deposition reveals them to be? Not, mind you, worse than us. Most of us would duck and cover in a deposition like this one, just like the Archbishop. Any of us who have brains would get the best legal counsel we could and do exactly what that attorney told us to do.

Archbishop Carlson doesn’t reveal himself to be a fiend in this deposition. He reveals himself to be no better than the rest of us.

Which brings us back to the task that faces us. We are fallen people, served by a priesthood that is composed entirely of fallen people, living in a fallen world.

Yet we serve a risen Savior, Who is God Incarnate. We are called to be “perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

But we can’t do it. We. Can. Not. Do. It. We don’t get through a single day without at least one and usually many sins of one sort or another.

We want heroes who will give us the illusion of the possibility of human perfection. But human perfection is always just that; an illusion.

To put it bluntly, we are all — priest and parishioner alike — down here in the pits together. As Jesus said, “There is none good except God.”

So how do we solve this conundrum of answering a call to be “perfect” while we are certain that there is “none good” among humankind?

We solve it by getting up every morning and giving our day to Jesus and His Mother. We solve it by availing ourselves of the certain graces of the sacraments. We solve it by forgiving each other and sustaining one another in our weakness.

How does this apply to the Archbishop Carlsons in our clerical leadership? More to the point, how does it apply to us and our response to the Archbishop Carlsons in our leadership?

My answer — and this is just me, talking about me — is that we need to cherish these men and help them as we can. At the same time, we need to stop pretending that they are anything other than fallen human beings. When they stand behind that altar and lift up the host, they are conduits of God’s grace. When they come down from behind the altar and scald us with a fit of rage or lie in a deposition, they are just people, wallowing around in the pit of failed good intentions along with the rest of us.

This is difficult for Catholics. It’s difficult for me. I am still working out how to deal with wounds inflicted by clergy. Some days I don’t do so well with it. Protestants can just dismiss their clergy as fallen people and be done with it. But Catholics are part of a hierarchical Church whose entire governance is built on the administration of these fallen men.

How do we, as Catholics, remain faithful when we see by their actions that we must be judicious about how and when we follow our clergy?

This is a tough one. It’s not always or even mostly about big public dilemmas like Archbishop Carlson’s dipping and dodging deposition. It is usually more personal, and because of that, far more damaging to us as Christians and Catholics.

How do we, say, disregard things a priest or spiritual director says to us in a fit of rage? How do we decide what to believe and what not to believe about the things they say to us? How do we overcome the sense of betrayal when a priest gossips about our deepest hurts? These are more the kinds of things that most Catholics must overcome in their walk of faith. The big public falls from grace seem easy to me compared to those much deeper personal dilemmas. How do we live together as Catholics in this fallen world?

These are hard questions with no easy answers. I’m going to leave it open for discussion and see what the rest of you think. In the meantime, take a look at Archbishop Carlson’s deposition. It’s clearly not a case of dementia or anything like it. He’s dipping and dodging and doing it quite well. Just like us.

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