CANTA issue #3, 2017

One of the seven holy sacraments, reconciliation causes much discomfort for the increasingly individualistic Catholic youth of today. The concept of telling your sins to a much older man who you rarely know, is difficult for privacy obsessed teenagers already genetically determined to defy authority. Why can’t they repent directly to God?

Throughout my Catholic education I was persuaded, by either social pressure or teacher’s encouragement, to partake in the honest exercise. With acoustic music playing in the background, and the smell of incense in the air, tense students one-by-one entered hidden rooms where priests they had never met waited. It was awkward. I didn’t want to do it.

Why can’t I confess in my bedroom? God is omniscient; it is declared in both the Old Testament – “Even before I speak, you already know what I will say” (Psalms 139:4) – and the New Testament – “God is greater than our conscience, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). Therefore, whether or not I’m truly remorseful is already known by God, and if he is infinitely benevolent, he will forgive me regardless of a priest’s participation in the process.

Biblical evidence supporting reconciliation is weak. When James says, “confess your sins to each other” (5:16), the ‘other’ is never defined. Earlier in John, when Jesus tells his disciples that “If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven” (20:23), he doesn’t specify that this truth refers to all following priests.

The modern Catholic Church has a perception problem among youth; letting sinful children and blasphemous teenagers to connect personally with God at their own speed, during their own time, in their own space, consequently eliminating the middle-man, would help bridge that gap.