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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Priest refuses Sacrament of Confession

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, my own parish is now yoked with another parish so many things have changed for us.  My parish no longer offers a Saturday Vigil Mass or Confession on Saturdays – the only time you can have confession at my parish is to set up an appointment during the week.

Well, I didn’t get around to setting up an appointment this week, so this afternoon I drove to another town where I have occasionally attended Mass and gone to Confession on Saturdays.  Today when I arrived at this parish at 3 pm (Mass is at 4 pm), the priest was in the confessional with someone, but no one else was waiting.  So I was next.

I prayed for a good while before the confessional opened up and out walked a friend of mine, we greeted each other briefly as he went on to sit in another pew.  The priest, (I’ll call “Father S”) walked out behind my friend, nodded at me waiting for confession and then walked passed me.

So I prayed a bit more and waited for “Father S” to return to the confessional.

He did not.

When I looked around I found Father placing pink envelopes on pew seats.  I watched him for a moment, and then noted the clock reading 3:15 pm.  Since I’d been at this parish before, I know there is a rosary at 3:30pm led by a deacon so that confessions continue until 3:45 pm.  Still plenty of time for my confession I thought.

Thinking perhaps Father didn’t know I was sitting near the Confessional because I was waiting for Confession I said, “Father will you hear my confession?”

Father said, “No!”

I said “Excuse me?” I was sure I had misunderstood him.

There were three other parishioners sitting in the pews who looked just as stunned as I felt.

Father (slapping down pink envelopes on pews) said “No, I cannot hear any more confessions today because SOMEBODY didn’t do their job so now I have to do it.”

I was stunned.  I didn’t respond for a moment as he continued making his way from pew to pew placing pink envelopes on the seats.

At this point, I see my friend who had just left the confessional go over to assist Father with his envelopes – my guess is my friend was offering his services so that Father could hear my Confession, but it didn’t work.  Father would not stop placing pink envelopes on pews, even with someone else offering to do it.

I tried again, “So you won’t hear my confession?”

Again, he said “No, I have to do someone else’s job because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do.  This is what happens when people don’t do their job.”

I nodded at him, not knowing what to say, knelt before the Tabernacle, crossed myself and made my way toward the door still not believing that a priest would refuse to hear someone’s confession.

On my way out, Father called after me, “I will hear your confession AFTER Mass.”

‘After Mass’? I wasn't there for Mass (I attend at my own parish on Sunday), I was there solely for Confession.

I walked out shocked that a priest would CHOOSE to place envelopes on pews rather than hear a person’s confession.  He was clearly angry at someone for not placing the pink envelopes in the pews, but to take that anger out on someone wanting and waiting for the Sacrament of Confession is just unbelievable to me.

It's hours later and I am still in disbelief with what happened.

Shouldn't a Sacrament be a priority over envelopes? 

What sort of priest refuses a Sacrament to someone in order to place envelopes on pews?  He still had a half an hour of time to be hearing Confessions and he had 45 minutes before Mass was to begin. I can think of no excuse for his behavior.

Stunned, I got in my car, drove home and wrote a detailed letter to his Bishop telling exactly what happened.

I am not sure what the issue is with this particular diocese but if you recall me telling another nightmare Confessional story about this year’s Holy Week when another priest in another parish (same diocese) was texting while hearing confessions.

What is going on?

I did not write to the Bishop that time- I probably should have.  Many of my readers told me I should but I let it go.  Now that this has happened again… I am not letting it go.  The Bishop needs to do something about this so that it does not continue. 

I hope I hear back from the Bishop (I gave him my name, email and phone number), and an apology from the priest would be nice too.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner


  1. Good for you for not letting it go this time. I might suggest letting it go the first time was not a good idea for if he did it to you, he probably did it to five other people. Do follow up with the bishop's office and don't let them sit and drag on this matter.

  2. On a hunch, it sounds like this priest has other issues. We all have bad days. This may have been one of his. Pray for him. If there's more going on, perhaps his bishop can suggest he take a break.

  3. That was unfortunate for you, the priest and those who were witness.

    I would tend to cut the priest some slack. We cannot know what is going on for others and the burdens on priest are substantial.

    I'm not sure that I would call the Bishop. I do know that I would add this priest (and all priests) to my especial prayers.

    Just as an fyi, at my last confession the priest was ~15 mins late. He also had Mass in 15 mins. This was his third Mass (11AM) of the day at three different parishes.

  4. Thank you everyone for the comments, I will keep you posted if I hear back from either the Bishop or the priest.
    I do realize he was having a bad day, but to take it out on someone by refusing a Sacrament is just dead wrong in my opinion.
    I am praying about it though.

    In Christ,

    Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

  5. You did the right thing in informing the bishop. What if you had had a serious sin on your soul and you were about to engage in something dangerous (airplane flight, operation, etc.)? I assume the priest didn't know if that's the case or not. He should understand that he might be endangering your soul by refusing to hear your confession.

  6. Theres a stereotype of religious folk being preoccupied with money. It was one of the stumbling blocks my wife overcame when she "crossed the Tiber". It didn't help that the first Mass she attended with me, the pastor spent his homily time chewing out the congregation for not giving up enough dough for their capital campaign. This sort of behavior is also what turned my athiest mother off to the Church when she attended RCIA fifty years ago. Some priests need a good jap slap upside the head at times, it sounds like you ran into one.

  7. Really, this is not worth writing the bishop about. Why use up your credibility with your bishop by writing him about one-off events?
    Obviously, the priest himself had doubts about his conduct since he called after you that he would hear your confession after Mass. That may not have worked for you, but he was being reasonable and perhaps saw that he had let his temper or his pique get the better of him.

    Here in my parish we had a situation where the pastor was leaving an overhang of ten unconfessed people every week without adjusting the schedule. Confessions are from 4 till 5, and he does not mean 5:05. His reason is that he has to get ready for 5:30 PM Mass. Fair enough, but there was not any offer to hear confessions after Mass. He made no move to start hearing at 3 or 3:30. After two months of watching ten people being turned away every Saturday afternoon, finally I wrote the bishop.


  8. My good experiences in confession far outnumber the bad ones, so I would tend to view this as an exhausted, irritable priest feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. But that can't happen twice.

    I once went to confession on a Saturday (query why it tends to be in the middle of a Saturday afternoon?? this is not the best time really), and the priest was reading a newspaper, audibly shaking it, as I confessed. I was quite p.o.'d.

  9. I think Fr. S. has done the right thing because he had offered to hear your Confession after Mass. Sometimes we need to be kind and considerate - There might be unusual conditions, other than the pink envelopes. for him to say No to you. Be kind and don't project things.

    I had same experience before, but once the priest said No, I thought "it's not meant to be". When we are inside the Confessional, we're confessing to GOD; and we are supposed to receive spiritual guidance from the priest, who's CHRIST in persona.

    Although Catholics are obliged to go to Mass once a week on Sundays, we receive graces for every Mass we go. It could be the Holy Spirit inspired him to invite you to stay for Mass, but you missed the opportunity. Your thoughts were more on self and less on GOD.

    Other than mortal sins like adultery, theft, your hurt someone or murder, or you have something really bothered your mind, Confession can wait. There are 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit, think which fruit do you want? I hope instead of asking for people's opinion, you would take time to pray about this incident. Pray, and pray, and pray, and listen to GOD's voice. GOD will tell you what He wants you to do, through Mass, through the Bible, or spiritual reading and so on.

    We have 30% decrease from young men entering priesthood. Please pray for the priest and increase of vocation.

  10. To AbideInHeaven,

    1) The Bishop told me and Fr. S, that Fr.S was wrong and the Bishop made Fr. S apologize to me (that is another sad story about this particular priest).

    2) Fr. S did NOT know if I had mortal sin to confess that day or not (neither do you know what sin/s I had to confess)

    3) I went to the Church during the assigned Confession time designated by THAT priest

    4) He refused to hear ANYONE'S confession before Mass that day, not just mine

    5) Anyone staying for that Mass would NOT be allowed to have the Eucharist IF they had mortal sin that was not confessed, so Fr. S was denying people the Eucharist by FORCING them to confess AFTER Mass when he had PLENTY of time and opportunity BEFORE Mass in the time HE scheduled for people to come. He was ticked off, plan and simple and he was taking it out on everyone that day.

    6) Because I teach at my own parish, I attend Mass at my own parish on Sunday mornings- because my parish is "yoked" we have NO weekly confession so I am forced to find a priest in another parish if I didn't set up a scheduled confession ahead of time at my own parish- sin often isn't scheduled and neither is my time to get to confession. I get there as often and timely as I can so scheduling isn't always possible for me or most people. That is why I checked with this priest and his Confession times BEFORE I drove there.

    7) Confession is ALWAYS about the individual- that's the point. The individual confessing their individual sins to correct their relationship with God. Going to confession is NOT about the priest, its his DUTY to hear confessions.

    8) This priest has been reprimanded by his Bishop and to my knowledge has not done this again to anyone.

    In Christ,

    Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner


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