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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
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Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

My priest yelled at me in confession because I had pre-marital sex – is this objectionable behavior and should I report him if it is?

Neela Kale Answers:

The sacrament of reconciliation celebrates God’s boundless mercy and love — no matter what we have done, God always gives us a fresh start if we express sorrow for our sins and a desire to amend our lives. There is absolutely no place for recriminations during confession. The priest may ask questions to help you thoroughly examine your conscience, and he will encourage you to true conversion of heart. But he is not there to scold you because of what you have done. Instead, his words and his tone should convey that he wishes to welcome you back into God’s loving embrace.

If you begin a confession and feel you are not being treated well, it is best to leave and to seek another priest at another time. You are always free to seek out a priest who can help you feel comfortable during reconciliation. If you have serious concerns about the priest’s behavior, call the representative of the priest personnel board (find contact information on your diocesan website). The seal of confession is extremely sacred, which makes reporting about something that happened during reconciliation very delicate. The representative can help you determine if any further action is necessary.

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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    Your not suppose to confess your sins to a man that is just as wicked as you. Nevermind that priest, confess to God only!

  • richfire

    I have the same experience too… I confess to a priest and the priest didn’t forgive me. So i leave the confession room with teary eyes, and ask myself… how come in this planet it happened thz way.. where can i find refuge and rest my spirit for the only person in the world who would understand human nature refuse to forgive me, it is very hard to confess especially to human… but for the courage of GOD i tried., coz i commit serious terrible mistake (SIN)… what i did is i transferred to other parish and ask the priest incharge of the mass if he would allow me to confess… “for this kind of mistake” then he said… yes..go ahead… the courage that i focus on is came from the story of prodigal son that i remember when i read my bible and even in the mass.. God seriously forgive if im willing to go back to him, this i said to myself and put it in my mind over and over again… then i did… I pray for that priest that he may not do that act again…to other confessioners because it hurts and painful.

  • Mike

    “priest yells at connfessor for pre-matital sex”

    is it a bad thing that a priest did what your parents sould have done too, yelled at you for not rasing you right, or for you not having strong will power, or for you putting yourself in a situation that you should have left before it happened?

    You did something that is taught not to do. Do you think God would have yelled at you for sinning too, or just said its ok keep on sinning, or it’s ok I’ll just forgive you every saturady provied you tell me about it? that is what I am all about now days. I’m not about others obeying my commandments any more just forgivness. FREEWILL is a Bit*h, sometimess it can get you into trouble but God too has freewill, therefore so do you. God too has a set of rules to live by, along with his freewill. He does not devate from his set standards of life, even tough he too has freewill. should you not do the same? Food for thought.

    • Quinn Wendland

      Are you saying that you never sin? Food for thought.

    • ravenwood

      As a strong satisfied Protestent I can only hope that you are either a priest now or soon will be.

    • Stephanie Hazeem

      I’m so glad I’m agnostic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikehayesjr Mike Hayes

    I’m not a priest but am a spiritual director. I don’t hear confessons but I do often hear many intimate details of someone’s life. I do get frustrated sometimes when I hear the same story from someone for 5 months in a row. But that says more about me than it does about them. I wonder if I’m doing their soul any good at all?

    But the truth is that admonitions need not be unkind. I often will “mirror back” to the directee what they said to me to make sure I heard them correctly, but also to allow them to hear the facts for themselves of their life’s details. When they do they often ask for help in overcoming their sins a bit more directly.

    The bottom line is that confession is also not spiritual direction. It’s a sacrament. And in that sacrament we celebrate that God forgives us even before we sin. A recommendation to see a good spiritual director to try to get at the underlying causes of the sin is always a good place to start. Taking someone’s sins seriously in the confessional takes patience and humility. A priest needs to remember that he too, is a sinner and needs God’s mercy. Perhaps Pope Francis’ advice to his priests that they “most of all need to be merciful” is well needed today.

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