Must be from the 1960s what with the telephone, the typewriter and the style of dress, probably earlier rather later '60s. Michael, it's not a topic that interests you, I grant, but as a former priest you know the internal dynamics of the Church. While the hierarchy still endorses condemning all types of birth control, how is the question handled "on the ground," so to speak, that is, how do priests at the parish level deal (in the confessional when someone confesses to this "sin") with the subject? Many years ago, a former priest (former because he got married), who looked like you (hence the "cara de cura" comment), told me that he questioned the woman about the state of her health and justified the use of contraceptives on that ground. RoderickP.S. Drafting this question in my mind helped me to go to sleep last night.
That is indeed a photo from 1966-9167 when Tom was editor of the newspaper at Ripon College.In theory, a priest in the confessional will ask questions if necessary to determine why a person committed the action he/she is confessing as a sin. Theologically the idea is that to be guilty of a mortal sin (the only things that MUST be confessed in this context) (1) the act must be objectively wrong, (2) the person must know it is objectively wrong, and (3) the person freely and knowingly chooses to act anyway. If there are constraints that render a person less free or less aware/knowing (like health issues, in the example you gave -- I knew a number of women who were using birth control to regulate their periods for reasons unrelated to preventing conception), then the priest might explain that this mitigated the seriousness of the act, while still encouraging the person to consider whether there were other ways to approach the question. When several moral values come into conflict and a person must choose among them, the priest can offer guidance is deciding which options are more life-giving and affirming. Only people who do not deal with actual cases think these questions are black-and-white.I suspect that in most cases when someone confesses using birth control, the priest in the confessional will just ignore it and ask if the person is sorry for their sins (in general) and intends to try to avoid sinning in the future. If the person says yes, the priest will absolve them and move on to the next person. Some priests will spend a lot of time in a pastoral manner, trying to help the person understand the issues and seeing if he can assist them in finding ways of dealing with the concern. Other priests might put a person through the third degree and attempt to wrest a promise never to use any form of birth control again.The reality is that most Catholics no longer consider birth control seriously sinful, if at all, and don't bother to mention it in confession. For that matter, most Catholics don't go to confession with any great regularity any more.At any rate, I attended a very conservative seminary and was taught that the priest in the confessional is there to forgive sinners, not to condemn or harass them. I know from personal experience that not all priests act in the most pastoral way, but I believe -- or at least hope -- that most do their best.
PS to above discussion of the birth control issue: There are plenty of people who will tell me that I am wrong about this. They may well be correct. It has been more than ten years since I was part of the confessional experience and more than that since I discussed this issue with priests.
Thanks for the very enlightening explanation - good to know how priests should, perhaps do respond in the confessional. As you write, not a black and white situation. As to birth control, clearly the laity have moved on and priests don't probe. On a related topic, it is sad that the Pope can only suggest "discussing" ordaining women as deacons - the traditionalists are bound to erupt in fury. The photo of Tom is cute by the way. Roderick
I love that photo of Tom. The framed original sits on a table in my study.Many religious sisters I know, although in favor of ordaining women, say that they themselves would prefer not to be ordained because that would place them under even more control by the local bishop. They find that they can be better servants (the original meaning of deacon) without episcopal interference, even if it limits their service to the non-sacramental field.
LOLMy first thought was this was Shostakovich.
Iconic photo.Those glasses are back in fashion.Kato
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