Friday 21st September 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ . . . Understanding Confession More Deeply

June 17, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Part 33

When Jesus gave the apostles the power to bind and unbind things here on Earth (Matt. 18:18), He gave them authority over His flock. Hence, from the very first century, Popes and bishops passed laws to be observed by the people. Consequently, considering the seriousness of sin, and the risk many take for eternity if they lead a sinful life, the Church wisely made a law requiring all the faithful who have come to the use of reason, to receive the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.
This law does not bind everyone, such as those who are not in mortal sin. It binds only those who are guilty of mortal sin. Moreover, the sacramental Confession of venial sin is never obligatory. It is recommended, but not obligatory. But it is profitable for the penitent to confess all of his venial sins committed after the last Confession, as it exercises his humility and horror of sin.
A very controversial issue regarding Confession these days is the confessional seal, or the obligation of the priest never to reveal the sins committed by the penitent, regardless of their seriousness. So, even the sins of murder, abortion, homosexuality, lying under oath, theft, and so on, the priest cannot reveal to anyone, to any authority, ever at the cost of his imprisonment of death. The priest who hears Confessions is absolutely bound to observe complete secrecy, and never to betray a penitent in any way by word or deed.
Of course, he is bound to encourage the penitent to surrender himself to the authorities to see to the consequences of his sins, but he can never reveal them himself. Without the seal, few people would trust the intent of the priest to remain silent about his sins.
It is amazing how even priests who abandoned the priesthood to lead a life of sin or irreligion still do not break the seal of Confession. This silence is fundamental for the penitent to trust the sacrament.
Yes, Confession is a great instrument of God’s mercy to His people!
Now let us get a little technical to increase our understanding of this marvelous sacrament: Penance, as Confession is also known, is the sacrament by which the priest remits sins committed after Baptism to those who confess them with sorrow, and are willing to perform the works of satisfaction he imposes. So, the minister of the sacrament is the priest, or bishop. Never a layman, or even a deacon.
A layman can baptize in case of need, but he cannot absolve sins. He may pardon the sins committed against him by a neighbor, but not forgive the sin as such. Only God can forgive sins, and God the Son, Jesus Christ, gave such power to His bishops and priests.
The minister of the Sacrament of Penance must be a duly authorized priest or bishop. What does this “authorization” mean? By “duly authorized,” we mean that he must have jurisdiction or faculties, that is, he must have received the right to exercise the power of forgiving sin. Jurisdiction is the right to act as judge or to exercise authority over subjects.
In civil society, to be a judge one must receive the jurisdiction to hear cases and pass sentences. Civil jurisdiction is not up for grabs by anyone who wants to exercise justice in society. Likewise, a priest in the confessional is like a judge, and as a judge cannot condemn or acquit except in the court to which he has been appointed, so a priest who is not provided with proper authority cannot validly absolve.
It simply means that, under ordinary circumstances or until the Church legislates otherwise, a priest who has no faculties cannot absolve the sins of penitents until he receives the faculties to hear Confessions. If he is in a place where he has not received jurisdiction or faculties, his absolutions are not valid. This is most important, because in this way “maverick” priests who go around hearing Confessions are not doing so validly, and the penitents who confess their sins to them go out un-absolved.
The only person who has universal jurisdiction, who can hear Confession anywhere in the world, is the Pope, because he has jurisdiction from Christ over the entire Church.
A diocesan bishop in communion with the Pope has jurisdiction over his own subjects and diocese, and the bishop communicates that jurisdiction to his pastors and other priests. He does not have jurisdiction over the people of another diocese, unless given by the local bishop.
But a faithful Catholic can go to Confession with any validly ordained priest who has faculties in any diocese of the world.
Moreover, the Church, in her solicitude for the eternal welfare of souls, grants faculties to all validly ordained priests, even if deposed from office or outside her communion, to absolve anyone who is in immediate danger of death.
Another important thing to remember is that only Catholics who have committed sin after Baptism can receive the Sacrament of Penance. Protestants who do not believe in the full teachings of Christ as taught by the Church cannot validly receive the sacrament, let alone pagans, or other non-baptized people. Besides, to be able to receive the sacrament one must be at the age of reason, that is, a minimum of seven years of age. Toddlers and babies cannot receive it, of course. First of all, they are unable to sin, and naturally are unable to confess, so they cannot receive it. This also presupposes the age of discretion, that is, about seven years.
What are the effects of the Sacrament of Confession in the soul of the penitent? That is the next question to answer. The effects are seven in number. Let us see them one by one:
1) The forgiveness of sin, and reconciliation with God, by which the penitent recovers grace: Stop for a moment to consider this first effect. My sins are forgiven. Let me say it again: My sins are forgiven! It is a most amazing effect, to hear from the priest the consoling words that my sins are forgiven. My soul is clean again, I have been given another chance to improve my life of grace en route to sanctification.
2) The reconciliation with the Church, because she was wounded by my evil deeds: Yes, as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, I have inflicted wounds on that Mystical Body by my mortal sins. Now that they are forgiven, the wounds are healed, and I am reconciled with my Mother, the Church.
3) Every mortal sin committed scienter et volenter, that is, knowingly and willingly, deserves an eternal punishment, the everlasting loss of God and exclusion from the Kingdom of Heaven. But the absolution in Confession gives me the remission of that eternal punishment I deserved by my mortal sin.
4) In Confession, I also receive the forgiveness of all my venial sins, even though I may not have confessed them.
5) I also receive the remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin, viz., the expiation required in this life or the next — Purgatory.
6) After a good Confession, I receive peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation, in the certitude that my sins were forgiven.
7) Finally, I also receive the sacramental grace to help one expiate sin and to struggle with fortitude in the Christian battle to avoid sin in the future. God is merciful indeed!
Next article: More on Confession.

+ + +

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website:

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Yet another US bishop calls for Youth Synod to be canceled so Church can ‘deal with abuse crisis’

TYLER, Texas, September 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Texas bishop has called for the Youth Synod to be canceled in light of the ongoing scandal regarding the cover-up of episcopal sexual abuse of minors and seminarians. On September 8, Bishop…Continue Reading


ATLANTA ( – Celebrity Jesuit Fr. James Martin is heading to Georgia, courtesy of pro-gay Abp. Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia. On Friday, Martin announced on Twitter that Abp. Gregory has invited him to speak in October at two Atlanta-area locations.…Continue Reading

Leaked sex abuse report rocks German church, 3,677 victims

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two German major media outlets – Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – leaked today the findings of a sexual abuse commission funded by the German Bishops’ Conference and which Cardinal Reinhard Marx had planned to present to the public…Continue Reading

US bishops’ president accused of allowing reported sex abuser access to kids

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, has been accused of allowing a priest who confessed to sex abuse of a minor to function as a pastor of a parish,…Continue Reading

Cdl. Cupich on abuse crisis: We shouldn’t be ‘distracted’ by this, Church has ‘bigger agenda’

CHICAGO, September 10, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – When challenged about the clergy sexual abuse scandal now facing the Church, Cardinal Blase Cupich told a large gathering of seminarians that the Church’s agenda is “bigger” than the sexual corruption now facing the…Continue Reading

Catholic prelates must speak out, now, as the faithful are attacked by their own shepherds

September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The following reflection is the result of a couple of days of my reading and thinking about the last five years, but then also about the last fifty years. Trying to get an interview with…Continue Reading

Oklahoma archbishop: I’ve ‘deepest respect’ for Viganó. His claims demand ‘deeper examination’

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, August 31, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley has issued a statement saying he has the “deepest respect” for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó and his “integrity.” Some on the left have attempted to cast doubt…Continue Reading

One Mad Mom . . . Martin’s Cozy with Proximate Occasions of Sin

Let me say this, I am a mom of a multitude of kids and have spent their lives trying to ensure their safety and well-being.  I have THE biggest stake with what’s been going on in the Church for decades. …Continue Reading

Thousands of Catholic women ask Pope: Did you cover-up for McCarrick, as Viganò claims?

August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of prominent Catholic women have written an open letter to Pope Francis imploring him to provide clarity on the “escalating” sex abuse crisis currently “engulfing” the Church. Expressing anger, betrayal, and heartbreak, the women bluntly…Continue Reading

Ave Maria University president slams Viganò, Cardinal Burke

AVE MARIA, Florida, August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Citing the “God of Surprises,” the president of a Roman Catholic University once known for its orthodoxy has slammed two faithful prelates for their challenges to the Pope, particularly in regard to…Continue Reading

Pope handpicks US cardinal enmeshed in McCarrick scandal as youth synod delegate

August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has named Cardinal Joseph Tobin, a prelate who former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò has testified owes his rise to power to disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as a delegate to the October synod on…Continue Reading

U.S. bishop disappointed with Pope’s ‘no comment’ answer on sex-abuse cover-up

MADISON, Wisconsin, August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Robert Morlino vouched for the integrity of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, joining a growing chorus of faithful prelates who have expressed support for the former papal nuncio’s astounding testimony pointing to Pope Francis and other high-ranking…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

US bishops’ silence on meeting with Pope could put their credibility on sex abuse at risk

ROME, September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Have the jocular images and low-key statements of US Bishops following their meeting with Pope Francis last week set back their attempts to address the grave situation in the Church, especially the handling of sexual abuse cases by bishops? The details that have been revealed of the bishops’ meeting with Francis last Thursday give no indication that they addressed the extent of the McCarrick coverup or the need for…Continue Reading

Cardinal Maradiaga rebukes papal critics: McCarrick abuse scandal ‘of a private order’

September 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The scandal of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuse of young priests and seminarians and Pope Francis’ alleged cover-up are “of a private order,” and a merely “administrative affair,” according to one of the Pope’s top advisers, Cardinal Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga. He made these remarks in a recent interview in one of the most revealing statements to date on the Viganò testimony. In an interview published on Wednesday evening by Religion Digital, the religious portal…Continue Reading

Dutch Catholic church accused of widespread sexual abuse cover-up

More than half of the Netherlands’ senior clerics were involved in covering up sexual assault of children between 1945 and 2010, a press report claimed on Saturday, further engulfing the Catholic church in a global abuse scandal. Over the course of 65 years, 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse, allowing the perpetrators to cause many more victims”, the daily NRC reported. “Four abused children and 16 oth

Steve Bannon Drafting Curriculum for Right-Wing Catholic Institute in Italy

(Reuters) – Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church. Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life. Cardinal Raymond…Continue Reading

China, Vatican ‘May Sign Deal’ on Chinese Catholics, Bishops: Taiwan

Beijing and the Vatican are on the verge of an agreement on the status of China’s Catholic Church and the controversial appointment of bishops by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reports indicate. A report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday cited two people close to negotiations as saying that a deal was very close. In Taipei, Taiwan foreign affairs spokesman Li Hsien-chang said the democratic island’s officials had a similar understanding of the situation.…Continue Reading


Chaplain Tells Medical Workers…. Discovering God’s Will Leads To Love And Joy

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Although those seeking a direction in life may turn to searching for God’s will, a Phoenix chaplain reminded listeners that another ruler from beyond the Earth also has a plan for their lives, Satan. Fr. Ignatius Mazanowski, FHS, chaplain of the Phoenix Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, explored a…Continue Reading

Solzhenitsyn: Truth Is Light

By DONALD DeMARCO Without the truth we are in the dark, not knowing how to think, judge, act, or live. Please tell us the truth. Please dispel the darkness. Readers of The Wanderer will understand my plea without my needing to divulge names. We do, as Marshall McLuhan explained to us, live in a global…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Skewed Ideas About Education And Minority Groups

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Is Trump Going Neocon In Syria?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling. The past week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the…Continue Reading

Pro-Lifer… Arizona Governor Names Successor To Fill McCain’s Seat

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — With its own strange brand of politics, Arizona acquired a new U.S. senator who agreed to fill the upper-chamber seat for at least a few months. Huh? With the late John McCain’s health slipping away for more than a year to an aggressive brain cancer, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. It’s been several years since a Vatican commission was appointed to investigate the legitimacy of the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. What is the status of that investigation? — M.K., South Carolina. A. In 2014, the commission concluded a four-year study of the Medjugorje phenomenon and sent a report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of…Continue Reading

HLI’s Mission To Mongolia… There Are Setbacks, But The Church Continues

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. This commentary first appeared September 3 at and was reprinted by All rights reserved.) + + + “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in…Continue Reading

True Wisdom From Above

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 James 3:16-4:3 Mark 9:30-37 In the second reading today, St. James tells us that where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. As we look around, we can certainly see an abundance of disorder and foul practices. To eliminate these…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Why Evangelists Need An Interior Life

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Spiritual Handbook for Catholic Evangelists: How to Win Souls Without Losing Your Own, by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (Sophia Institute Press, 192 pages, Amazon paperback and Kindle). This is a new version of an old spiritual classic, originally written about a century ago, but still valid for today’s Church, and particularly for those involved in evangelization. The…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Confession… Confession Among The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 Here are some more testimonies from the Early Christians about the Sacrament of Confession, how they understood the sacrament and how it was administered by the priests to the people when they sinned. Those writers are known in history as the Fathers of the Early Church, the theologians and Bible scholars of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Servant of God Rozalia Celak

By CAROLE BRESLIN The closer one comes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the hotter the flame, as many saints have attested. St. Catherine of Siena bore the marks in her heart where the arrow of Christ’s love pierced it. With the flame of the burning love, the Sacred Heart touches those whom He loves in a special way. To…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Our Lady Of Mount Carmel

By CAROLE BRESLIN In northern Israel between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, a mountain range stretches inland. This range, although named Mount Carmel, is really a series of mountains stretching inland. The main site of the Mount, the Stella Maris monastery of the Discalced Carmelites, sits on a limestone bluff overlooking the city of Haifa. The view…Continue Reading