Priest calls for removal of archaic confession boxes

Pastor Dale Morgan

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More options Mar 6, 4:24 pm

From: Pastor Dale Morgan <>

Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2008 13:24:41 -0800

Local: Thurs, Mar 6 2008 4:24 pm

Subject: Priest calls for removal of archaic confession boxes

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*Perilous Times

Priest calls for removal of archaic confession boxes*

By Michael Brennan

CATHOLICS should be given general absolution twice a year because they
don’t go to confession any more, an outspoken priest said yesterday.

The practice of using Confession boxes should be discontinued.

But Fr Tony Flannery, 59, an outspoken Redemptorist priest, said it
should be given to congregations by parish priests because the
confession boxes in churches were not being used and when they are used
they are being misused.

“We rarely, if ever, go into confession boxes anymore. They stand idle
in most churches or are used as storage space,” he said.

In his newly published book, Keeping the Faith – Church of Rome or
Church of Christ, he recalled how he and a missionary priest had
attempted to hear confessions at a church in a psychiatric institution.

In the first confession box, a vacuum cleaner fell out on top of the
missionary and when the other box was opened, brushes and brooms fell out.

“The confession box was being used for storage. It is an image of the
state of the sacrament in today’s Church. I am suggesting we should
return to a practice of the medieval church. Twice a year, bishops and
abbots gave general absolution to all the faithful.”

Fr Flannery said confession had been used by the Catholic Church to
manipulate and control people though a process of psychological
manipulation. He said that by the threat of exposing their sins and by
generating a sense of anxiety and fear, The Catholic Church could have
and keep control of its Members. He said there was still a “hold it over
your head” mentality in the Catholic Church, which in effect was a form
of psychological Blackmail or a form of Brain Washing.

“The penitent should not have to say how long since their last
confession. That is irrelevant. The length of time since the person has
been to confession is of no importance whatsoever. We must also get rid
of this notion of the priest as judge and jury.”

Fr Flannery grew up in Co Galway, and joined the Redemptorist order in
1964. He is based in the order’s house in Athenry and has campaigned for
change in the Catholic Church through retreats, missions and his four
previous books.

He believes the Church should free priests from compulsory celibacy, and
open itself to the prospect of ordaining women priests.

He said that while the Church needed to be fairer to gay people, it also
had to face up to the huge number of gay men in its seminaries.

But Fr Flannery said he could not encourage young men to join the Church
because it had to be replaced by something new.

“I believe that what is old and tired has to die, and that new growth
will come from other sources, maybe other ones. The weeds of the past
need to be cleared away with the harrow in order to make space for a
spring crop,” he said.


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