THE POPE TODAY at Mass in Santa Marta spoke about CONFESSION when a priest cannot be found. He said that we have to ask forgiveness to God, who is Father and wants to “embrace” his children, especially in time of need.

       People have asked me to hear confession by phone or text messages. Let me explain. First of all let us read the catechism of the Catholic Church, to understand exactly what the Church is teaching us.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

1457 – According to the Church’s command after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year. Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. (Corona Virus is a serious reason)

1452 – When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect”. Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

So here we have two steps: 1 – Forgiveness, which God is very happy to offer to the one who is “sorry of having offended Him, because He is so good”, not only for fear of hell! 2 – Reconciliation means to be completely reunited with God and with the family of God, that is His Church.

      So, God will forgive you right away, as soon as you are repented, if you promise to reconcile with all the rest of the community = the Church through sacramental (with a priest) confession.

     According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the corona virus situation (like in a war) is a perfect example where people cannot get close to a priest, either in church or in the house, because the fear of contamination. (By the way, 26 priests have died in Italy because of Corona Virus).

WHY CAN’T THE PRIEST GIVE ME ABSOLUTION BY PHONE?

Sacraments are “human encounters with the grace of God”. Sacraments are “personal” not digital. Jesus fed thousands of people, but healed personally each person one be one.

Sacraments, like most of our human actions are physical, because they heal the whole person, not just the soul. For example, we cannot baptize with digital water; we cannot celebrate mass with an image of bread and wine, but we need real, physical bread and wine; we cannot celebrate marriage with digital (or philosophical) love; we cannot celebrate reconciliation through a phone, text message… because it is a human action, which require human presence.

      But remember that FORGIVENESS of sins comes from God, who is forgiving us as soon as we ask for it, if we have a serious intention of reconciling with Him and His family, reuniting through sacramental (official) confession. Remember the parable of the prodigal son? The father went out into the street to embrace his son and forgave him right away, but then he brought the son into the house back to the family to celebrate the reconciliation (which by the way was not accepted by the older son). Forgiveness is immediate; reconciliation is through the sacrament. And remember, we cannot fool God by asking forgiveness and then forget about fulfilling with reconciliation!

Fr. Walter

About Fr. Walter

Father Walter Tonelotto was born in Italy in 1947 and entered the Scalabrini Seminary at an early age. At 20 he was sent by his superiors to study Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York and then to the Toronto School of Theology. He holds a Master in Divinity from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa and a Master in Moral Theology from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, New York City.