Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Irony of Confession Opponents

Most non-Catholics and even some Catholics believe that confession is at best a embarrassing event that Catholics must endure, and at worst a conspiracy set up by the Church to stick its nose in other peoples' business. However, faithful Catholics know the benefits.

Ironically though, not many people seem to have an issue about showing the faces of people who have been arrested for certain crimes. It doesn't even matter if they are convicted or not, they are paraded through the court with multiple cameras zoomed in on their face. At least during confession a person is admitting his guilt, which is more than someone who is simply under arrest.

Once the court case starts, we hear all the gory details of whatever the crime may have been. It's a forced public confession. Yet you will rarely hear anyone say this is outrageous or consider this a ploy by citizens to stick their noses where they don't belong.

Let's compare this to confession. Confession is done in private, there is no video or audio equipment to record the proceedings. A penitent may choose to conceal his identity from the priest or even visit a different church. The Seal of the Confessional ensures that the utmost secrecy is maintained at all times, even if the priest is threatened with death.

Imagine for a minute if a Catholic penitent was treated the same as an accused person in a criminal court. He would be forced to confess in public to everyone around. It would be broadcast on television and radio, etc. How would people react? This would be so much more embarrassing than confession ever could be.

Do we believe that public sins (i.e. crimes) are not as bad as private sins? If we are real Christians, our main objective is to obey the moral law, regardless of the civil law. Therefore, civil law is inferior to moral law. So what happens in a court of law cannot be more serious than what could happen in a confessional.

I believe that if the civil court was as private and anonymous as the confessional, there would in fact be protest in the opposite direction, i.e. people would say we are kept in the dark about what is happening and that the process needs to be made more public. However, on the other hand, confession is seen as a violation of privacy! Seems to me, privacy is only violated if the protester isn't there to see what they are speaking about.

I want to note that perhaps some circumstances, it is necessary to publish the identity of a convicted criminal, and in even rarer circumstances it might be important to broadcast the name of an accused, but generally speaking I do not believe the general public is on a need-to-know basis for these things.

However, the point of my article is not how people should be treated in civil court, but rather the irony of how people feel about it versus the confessional.

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