Foul-mouthed Pope abandons traditional teaching on absolution

Pope Francis is just full of surprises. Word has now emerged that the Pope, using coarse language, advised Spanish seminarians that, even if the person making a confession is not penitent and does not intend to repent in the future, priests must grant that person absolution. By doing so, Francis departed from Catholic doctrine. More than that, he has just removed eternal punishment for any and all crimes and sins. As I said, full of surprises.

The Catholic Herald has the details:

Priests should grant absolution in the confessional even when the penitent has no intention to repent, the Pope has said in a speech which has shocked seminarians.

The Holy Father put aside a written speech, describing it as “boring”, and delivered an off-the-cuff address to seminarians from Barcelona, Spain, in which he frequently used foul language.

In his address, he ordered students for the priesthood “not to be clerical, to forgive everything”, adding that “if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all”.

“We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment,” Francis reportedly told the seminarians, who were accompanied by the Auxiliary Bishop Javier Vilanova Pellisa of Barcelona.

Priests who deny penitents absolution are “delinquents”, the Pontiff said, according to the Church Militant website.

Did he really say that priests shouldn’t be vehicles for “moralistic judgment”? I thought the whole point was that priests existed to aid their parishioners in living a moral life consistent with Biblical teachings in order to prepare them for a deserved ascension to Heaven in the afterlife. Without that morality bit, the Church reverts to the paganism of placating gods who behave in random, usually immoral or amoral, fashion.

Image: Pope Francis. YouTube screen grab.

I’m not a Catholic, so I did a little research to find out what spiritual consequences flow from granting absolution. According to Catholic Answers, absolution reflects the Church’s power to remove sin—including punishment in the afterlife—from a person’s moral roster:

Absolution (Ab = from; solvere = to free), is the remission of sin, or of the punishment due to sin, granted by the Church. (For remission of punishment due to sin, see Ecclesiastical Censures. Excommunication. Indulgences.) Absolution proper is that act of the priest whereby, in the Sacrament of Penance, he frees man from sin. It presupposes on the part of the penitent, contrition, confession, and promise at least of satisfaction; on the part of the minister, valid reception of the Order of Priesthood and jurisdiction, granted by competent authority, over the person receiving the sacrament.

The same link provides an encyclopedic list of Catholic authorities commenting on the Church’s power through its representatives to absolve true penitents of their sins, including the “eternal punishment” associated with the sin. No wonder, then, that the Catholic Herald explains that both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Canon 987 in The Code of Canon Law require that the person repudiate past sins, be truly contrite, and promise not to sin again.

As I understand what the Pope just said—and please correct me if I’m wrong—a man can walk into the confessional, state that he brutally murdered his wife, assert that he feels no guilt and would probably do the same again, and the priest must nevertheless grant him absolution lest the priest be guilty of “an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment.”

Pope Francis paired this interesting deviation from traditional doctrine and practice with obscenities more befitting a 20-something leftist barista than the moral and spiritual father of the Catholic world. Again, from the Catholic Herald:

According to reports, Francis also used his speech to rant against “f***ing careerists who f*** up the lives of others”.

The Pope also criticised “those who climb to show their a**”, the Italian media outlet Daily Compass reported.

What we’re witnessing here is the equivalent of the indulgences that plagued the medieval church. The only difference is that, back then, the priest demanded payment for granting absolution without picayune moral judgments. Now, the papacy is handing it out for free. It seems to me that the last time the papacy did this much damage to the Church’s moral standing, Martin Luther came along.

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