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« Faith And Reason | Main | Why Doesn't The Church Bar Pro-Abortion Politicians From Communion? »

February 28, 2007

Comments

Al Stakhanov

Yes, Peters certainly must know his stuff and his is gracious in his correcting but is this another example of drawing a distinction without a difference...or difference without distinction...difference w/o a difference?

Ed Peters

Hmmm. I would think, when one person says the theory works, and another person says the theory doesn't work, whatever distinctions are being drawn must make a difference.

Richard

In recent months, I had the occasion to go to confession to three different priests. They all changed the mandated words of absolution in one way or another. One priest said: "I absolve you from all your sins." I think that would be valid, correct? Another priest said: "You are absolved from your sins." Validity would be questionable there, would it not, although it does sound rather much like a Byzantine formula? The last priest said: "God forgives you and so do I" (really, that's what he actually said). I would assume that formula would be invalid. Your comments? Also, would you stop the priest in such a situation and request a valid absolution, or just go back to another priest?

JoAnna

Fr. Hoffman's correct response to a reader who wondered whether the absolution he received was valid, given that the confessor changed the words of absolution from "I absolve you from your sins" to "May God . . . absolve you from your sins." Fr. Hoffman told the reader that such an absolution was invalid.

I hope this isn't too off-topic, but I'm confused about something.

Why is "I absolve you from your sins" correct, but not "May God absolve you from your sins"? Isn't God the one doing the absolving in both cases? If so, what does it matter what the priest says?

I'm a Catholic convert with a lot to learn still, so please excuse my ignorance.

Joanna,
In the sacrament of penance, God works through the priest,in the cofession box.The priest becomes what is called,an Alter Christus,or Another Christ.Jesus gave this ability to the Apostles,and they,as the first bishops in union with the Pontiff,who was St Peter handed this sacred function down to subsequent bishops and priests through the sacrament of Holy Orders.
The Almighty uses His consecrated priests,as His hands,on Earth to carry out His will,in His name.
So when the priest says I absolve you,it is Jesus who is saying I absolve you.
God bless you.

AnnonyMouse

Joanna, also when the word "I absolve you from your sins" are spoken, you have NO DOUBT that your sins are forgiven.
The words, "May God forgive you"
Well, will He, or will he not?

A Catholic Mom

I always took the meaning of "the church supplies" to mean that the intentions of the Church in this sacrament make it valid, making up for the deficiencies in its adminstration, or in the person administering it. I believe I've heard it more in reference to baptism, for instance, adminstered by a lay person, or even by a non-Catholic, to a dying child. But it seems to me it should also pertain to Confession with a novelty-loving priest, by the same reasoning. So I don't follow Peters' reasoning (but, of course, I am no canon lawyer).

Esau

I'm a Catholic convert with a lot to learn still, so please excuse my ignorance.

JoAnna:
I believe this situation is similar to that of: a priest who ad libs the words of consecration where he would most likely end up with an invalid Mass; although, it is said that if he should ad lib any other parts of the canon, he would be acting illicitly (and perhaps sinfully), but the Mass does not become invalid.

Esau

I'm a Catholic convert with a lot to learn still, so please excuse my ignorance.

JoAnna:
I believe this situation is similar to that of: a priest who ad libs the words of consecration where he would most likely end up with an invalid Mass; although, it is said that if he should ad lib any other parts of the canon, he would be acting illicitly (and perhaps sinfully), but the Mass does not become invalid.

Some Day

I have a question that I have been at a lost to find out:

Is "I forgive you of all your sins..." valid?

I know that the original formulations were not in Latin or even Greek, but rather Aramaic.

But if a word like absolve, exists in latin absolvit, english absolve, spanish absuelvo and other languages, there is a diference between forgive and absolve.

And so many decent priests use that, and I would like to know if it is valid or not, because the rest is ok, just that word.

Any ideas?

J.R. Stoodley

JoAnna,

If the priest just says "May God absolve you of your sins" then he is not with his own words absolving you, and so neither is Christ (considerations like what this post is about aside). The priest must actually, acting in persona Christi, absolve you for it to be a valid sacrament.

The situation Some Day describes seems to be far less extreme and I would suspect the sacrament would be valid though the priest is still sinning himself. I don't know for sure though so I also would like someone more knowledgeable to weigh in on it.

A Catholic Mom,

The idea you are describing seems to be exactly the myth that Ed Peters is saying is untrue. The Church does not have the authority to change the formula of the sacraments so no legislation it produces can have that effect. It makes sense.

In the case of a layperson baptizing, it is not Church law that makes it valid. It is just Church law that makes it a sin for someone other than a priest (or bishop or deacon I think) to baptize except under extraordinary circumstances. The actual sacrament doesn't even require the person doing the baptism to be a Christian. All that matters for validity in this case is the words, the water on the head, and the intention to do what the Church does in baptism. Ecclesia suplet has nothing to do with it.

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