By Jean Lucien Vinet (1949)
Chapter VI -- THE MENTAL TORTURES OF CONFESSION
One strange prescription of Romanism which puzzles not only Protestants but Roman Catholics too, is the necessity of auricular confession to a priest in order to obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. We must state immediately that confession, as practiced in the Roman Church today, was neither commanded by Christ nor was it practiced by the early Christians. Auricular confession came into being many centuries after Christ and is therefore a pure invention of Rome.
The real reason behind this Roman prescription of obligatory confession of sins to a priest, is to keep all Roman Catholics under constant submission and authority of the priests of Rome. Confession, we must admit, has worked wonders in that direction. If a political party in our country could establish obligatory confession of all its members, the leader would have a complete knowledge of their most secret activities and could exercise a most effective authority over them all. The party would become the most united and most powerful in the country and could capture power easily.
Confession, in the Church of Rome, keeps individuals under control and its leaders can exercise a most effective authority over the penitents. It is indeed one of the most cunning inventions of Romanism. Possibly no one can realize this statement fully unless, like the writer, he has himself spent years operating this system of confession.
In order to provide priests with this incomparable influence over the people through confession, the poor Roman Catholics themselves have to pay dearly for that great invention. Indeed they pay dearly in inhuman, excruciating mental tortures. This brings us to the very subject of this chapter. We often heard preachers of religious revivals or missions in the Roman Church tell their audience the following story, in order to impress upon them the necessity of telling all their sins to the priest in confession without omitting the least detail.
"There was once," related the priest, "an old Roman Catholic lady who was dying. Outwardly this good old lady had been a devout Roman Catholic and had observed all the prescriptions of her Church. She was known to have approached frequently the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion. A priest was beside her and had just administered to her the sacrament of Extreme-Unction. Before she died, however, she managed to collect enough strength and courage to whisper this terrible admission to her confessor: `I'm damned... I'm damned...I have hidden a sin in confession since I was a young girl and I never had the courage to declare it. I spent my whole life in sin and sacrilege and in disgrace with God on account of my mistake in concealing a sin to the priest.' The preacher added that the good woman finally confessed all her sins and thereby died in peace with her maker."
This story, which is told to impress upon all Roman Catholics the importance of confessing all their sins to the priest, illustrates well the mental tortures and the distortions of conscience brought about in a soul by the spectre of compulsory auricular confessions of sins to a priest, especially by women and young girls. Can we imagine a merciful Saviour, who forgave sins through His love and blood on the Cross, demanding now that we must confess our sins to a sinful man in order to be forgiven? Can we imagine that Christ was prepared to damn the good old lady of the above story because she failed to narrate to a Roman priest some circumstances of the mistakes of her youth? It would be blasphemy to believe so. Only one thing saved the good woman and it was the mercy and blood of her Saviour, Jesus Christ, and certainly not her final confession to a man.
Auricular confession .to priests is indeed a pure invention of Romanism. It has been instituted, we priests know it so well, primarily to make it possible for the agents of Rome to control the most intimate reactions of human hearts and minds in the interests of the authority and prestige of a human political and religious system. By confession, Rome not only controls Governments, school boards, etc., when Roman Catholic members kneel down at the priest's feet in the confessional and receive instructions that will determine their decisions and actions.
Roman Catholics are indeed sadly mislead by Roman priests who teach them that Christ instituted confession when He said: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven." Even if priests had the divine power to remit sins, it would still not mean that the actual auricular confession of these sins to a priest is a divine requisite. If a son has offended his father and has wandered away to a distant land, the paternal forgiveness it is true, could be extended to this son through the medium of a representative, if the father wishes to do so, but that does not mean that the sins and mistakes of this boy have to be narrated with all their details to the father's representative in order to receive the paternal forgiveness. Let the priests of Rome who claim to be representatives of the merciful Lord, speak to the sinners of the mercy of Christ but not submit them to the mental tortures of Romanism.
Before we study the confessional and the mental tortures it imposes on the minds and souls, especially of lady penitents, we must expose the Roman doctrine that determines what to say in confession and how to say it.
A Roman Catholic, says his Church, must, in order to obtain peace with God, declare all his sinful actions, omissions and his most secret thoughts and desires, specifying minutely the kinds of sins committed, the number of times and all the circumstances which might alter the gravity of a sin. A murderer is obliged to declare his crimes, a young girl her most intimate thoughts and desires and a child the least little mis- chiefs of his innocent life. Roman theologians have drafted a long list of sins to be confessed and many of these sins are actually unknown to many a Roman Catholic. They have divided sins into several classes such as "original", "actual", "capital", "venial", "mortal", etc.
We have seen men tremble, women faint and children cry when the time to confess their sins to us had come. A priest cannot hear confessions for many months before he realizes that this ordeal cannot be requested by the kind and merciful Lord. On the other hand, we have seen priests laugh and joke in referring to their embarrassed penitents. If we can say that Mass is a fraud of a financial order, it is also true that confession is an imposture of authority by which priests investigate the minds and souls of human beings. When an organization such as the Roman system can control not only the education, the family and policies of the Civil Government of its members, but even their very thoughts and desires, we do not wonder that it can prosper and succeed. Roman Catholics, whether they feel that they ought to admit it or not, are forced into submission to Romanism through the process of torturing auricular confession. Let us review the confessions of a child, a young lady and that of a married woman.
(a) CONFESSION OF A CHILD
That child might only be seven years old. He has been told that he must tell all his sins to the priest. If he does not, he will commit a sacrilege and should he die, he cannot go to heaven. He is naturally very confused as to what really constitutes a sin. He believes that many of his actions are serious sins. Some children think that some of the necessities of the body are grave sins to be confessed. However, a child is naturally shy and reluctant to tell what he has done or thought. The result is that he omits to declare certain things that are really not sinful but he thinks they are. His conscience will reproach him for having hidden a sin in confession and he will experience uneasiness of conscience and will probably end in believing that he cannot make peace with his God. Confession has ruined this child's soul. He has been misled and one more Roman Catholic starts a life of mental torture and misconception of the mercy of Christ. Romanism with its system of confession cannot very well be identified with the kindness of the Lord who said: "SUFFER [ALLOW] THE LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO ME."
(b) CONFESSION OF A YOUNG GIRL
We now have a shy Roman Catholic young girl, : passing through the stage of childhood to puberty, who is about to enter the confessional. She is naturally embarrassed and her state of mind is just what a sordid confessor wishes explore. The priest will now hear from a young woman the most secret thoughts and desires of her soul. Her mind and soul are crucified on the altar of Romanism and of its curious and sinful priests.
If the young girl is reluctant to speak, the confessor will ask the following questions:
1. "Was it with a man? Was he married? Was he related to you? Was he a priest?
2. Did you give full consent of your will to these thoughts, desires, etc? Was it a complete action? Was it against some laws of nature? How often did you consent to these thoughts, desires, actions, etc. ?"
Many other embarrassing questions are asked according to the sins accused. Many of these questions are left to the discretion and indiscretion of the confessor. Some questions asked are sometimes stupid and criminal. We know a rather young pastor of a Manitoba Cathedral, who "hailed from the East" as a specialist in the confessions of young women, who asked his young female penitents if they wore "panties" or some other variety of feminine underclothing. These shameful details of a confession are mentioned here to illustrate what is meant by the tortures of confession. Roman Catholics know very well that what we disclose is the crude truth.
We are fully acquainted with the practice of certain abnormal priests in the confessional. We have investigated some cases where the confessor learns of the weaknesses of a prospective victim in the confessional.
She becomes an easy prey to his passions and vice.
The practice of soliciting women penitents to sin in the confessional is, in fact, so common, that the Roman theologians have inserted in their theology manuals a long thesis which regulates the conduct to be followed by priests and penitents who have sinned in this manner. This is called in Latin "De solicitatione in confessionali."
The confessional, far from being a place of forgiveness of sins, is very often the scene of the most disgusting sex crimes.
(c) CONFESSION OF A MARRIED WOMAN
A married woman enters the confessional. She will tell a strange man secrets which she probably would not dare to reveal to her own husband. She is even bound to reveal certain secrets of her husband. This especially happens when a sin is committed with the consent of both husband and wife. In the Roman Church, birth control of all variety is a sin and must be confessed with all its circumstances. The husband might be of Protestant Faith and his Roman Catholic wife will have to disclose to the priest the most intimate relations of their marital life. The priest will know more about the wife than the husband. There are no more family secrets because Rome has required that hearts and souls should be fully explored by priests. In this manner, Romanism controls the whole intimate lives of married couples.
A married woman, who has any amount of natural discretion and honesty, will enter the confessional with apprehension and often despair. She fears that terrible and infallible questionnaire. It is impossible to describe the mental inconvenience she now experiences by the spectre of compulsory confession. One married woman who had not much to confess anyway, told us one day that this obligation of telling everything to the priest was "diabolical" and we could not admit to her at that time that she was absolutely right.
The questionnaire in the case of a married woman goes somewhat like this:
"How often do you perform your conjugal duties?
Do you refuse to perform them sometimes? Why ?
How many times ?
Are your marital actions complete?
Could conception take place?
Do you use contraceptives?
How many times?
Any thoughts, desires, actions for other men but your husband, etc., etc. ?"
Poor Roman Catholic women! We know so well that your kind souls are tortured to death by this terrible Roman obligation of telling, not only your sins, but also the most intimate secrets of your married life. You are free, of course, to practice the prescriptions of your Church. As an ex-priest, we will never even suggest that you be unfaithful to your convictions, but as an ex-priest we can also tell you that these mental tortures imposed upon your souls are not a prescription of the Saviour of mankind to obtain forgiveness of your sins, but are pure inventions of men to keep your minds and hearts under the control of a system, the torturous Roman religious organization.
Your secrets that you have confided to us in confession will be forever kept and never divulged, you may have no fear of that. Ex-priests who have had the courage to shake the shackles of Rome are naturally too honest to divulge secrets confided to them. But we must admit, that as a priest we had no power to forgive your sins.
No priest has such power. Christ is the ONLY Mediator between God and men. He alone can give grace and salvation. This is not my opinion only but it is the teaching of Christ Himself. "I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME." (John 14:6).
If my dear Roman Catholic friends open their Gospel according to St. Luke, Chapter 5, Verse 21, they will read this:
"WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS, BUT GOD ALONE."
How strange that St. Luke did not say that the Roman Catholic priests can forgive sins through the mental tortures of auricular confession.