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ZachJPayne
06-10-2014, 09:42 AM
I'm getting a lot of mixed messages from my research, about whether or not someone who is non-Catholic (specifically, a protestant, raised Baptist) could go to to confession.

[Modern day story, the church in question tends to be more liberal. This character is desperate to talk to someone, and taking a friend's advice, she turns to a priest.]

Some places are saying "no" -- not unless they're dying or in the process of conversion. Some places are saying "yes", they can speak with a priest under the Seal of Confession, but they cannot receive absolution.

Is there a straightforward answer for the modern day? From what I've seen of Canon Law (cherrypicked passages, I'm sure), it's black and white: no. But I've seen enough dissent that I wanted to ask.

If it is possible, how would the dialogue go? I know that just about everything Catholic is steeped in ritual. Is there a way this person should approach the priest, different from how a Catholic would?

Thanks! I hope I was able to convey my questions without offense -- none was intended.

cornflake
06-10-2014, 09:59 AM
I'm getting a lot of mixed messages from my research, about whether or not someone who is non-Catholic (specifically, a protestant, raised Baptist) could go to to confession.

[Modern day story, the church in question tends to be more liberal. This character is desperate to talk to someone, and taking a friend's advice, she turns to a priest.]

Some places are saying "no" -- not unless they're dying or in the process of conversion. Some places are saying "yes", they can speak with a priest under the Seal of Confession, but they cannot receive absolution.

Is there a straightforward answer for the modern day? From what I've seen of Canon Law (cherrypicked passages, I'm sure), it's black and white: no. But I've seen enough dissent that I wanted to ask.

If it is possible, how would the dialogue go? I know that just about everything Catholic is steeped in ritual. Is there a way this person should approach the priest, different from how a Catholic would?

Thanks! I hope I was able to convey my questions without offense -- none was intended.

I'm confused - do you want them to actually go to confession or just to talk to a priest about their problems?

Confession is a sacrament. You're meant to be a baptized Catholic to receive it (except, as you note, in emergencies).

If someone just wants to like, talk to a priest for guidance, most will do that, regardless if the person is Catholic or not. It's still confidential, if that's your worry.

ZachJPayne
06-10-2014, 10:07 AM
All right, thank you for clarifying that. I think I was getting tied up with Confession -- the sacrament -- and the general confessing of a sin. (She's struggling with her sexuality, specifically).

If the priest is willing to sit down and listen to her, without her being Catholic, that's enough for my needs.

Thanks!

Hoplite
06-10-2014, 06:02 PM
I'm confused - do you want them to actually go to confession or just to talk to a priest about their problems?

Confession is a sacrament. You're meant to be a baptized Catholic to receive it (except, as you note, in emergencies).

If someone just wants to like, talk to a priest for guidance, most will do that, regardless if the person is Catholic or not. It's still confidential, if that's your worry.


All right, thank you for clarifying that. I think I was getting tied up with Confession -- the sacrament -- and the general confessing of a sin. (She's struggling with her sexuality, specifically).

If the priest is willing to sit down and listen to her, without her being Catholic, that's enough for my needs.

Thanks!

Is it pivotal that it be a Catholic priest? I'm not sure from your OP if what your looking for is:

1) How realistic it would be for a protestant (specifically a Baptists) to seek confession and/or guidance from a Catholic priest?

or

2) Do protestants (specifically Baptists) go to a spiritual leader (e.g. pastor, minister, priest, etc.) to confess sins and/or seek guidance?

If you're looking for No.1, I'd say it's unlikely. Protestants (unless they're going through some phase of their life questioning their beliefs) are going to go to their own respective denomination's holy leader if they choose to confess. One of the big differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is whether or not you need to have a holy-man absolve you of sin, or you can do that yourself by confessing straight to God.

If No.2, possibly. It'll depend on the spiritual level and personality of the individual, but Protestant holy leaders are there for consoling and helping their congregation.

Maze Runner
06-10-2014, 10:33 PM
If the red light is on over the priest's booth, that means he is in there and available to hear a confession. It's quite possible for anyone to enter the booth adjoining his. The priest will slide open the screen between them, and the confessor will say, "Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been ___ weeks, months, years since my last confession. Here are my sins..."

I think you have a possibility for some humor in this scene, Zach, as she wouldn't know much about the dialogue that's supposed to take place in there, and if the priest picks up on that, he may suspect that she is not a Catholic, or he may just think that she's been non-practicing for so long that she's forgotten procedure.

wendymarlowe
06-10-2014, 10:37 PM
It's entirely plausible for someone who is not Catholic to seek out a priest to talk to - plenty of priests are involved in outreach/mission work, and a big part of what they do is just make themselves available to talk when community members need it. That's completely separate from confession as a sacrament, though. Someone who isn't Catholic wouldn't need confession-the-sacrament because only Catholics believe it's necessary for absolution.

Maze Runner
06-10-2014, 11:01 PM
Absolution is a state of mind.

kaitie
06-10-2014, 11:29 PM
I know that where I lived growing up, Baptists didn't consider Catholics to even be Christian. Man there was a lot of misinformation going on. So depending on where she is, she might have issues with it. But I generally don't see it being a problem. I was raised protestant, but my best friend was Catholic and taught me about it and got me interested in it, so I find that totally believable, and considering the negative attitudes toward homosexuality in a lot of Baptist churches, I could also definitely see her wanting to talk to someone outside of that church.

So it is worth it to be aware that there might be some animosity, particularly in the south, I think it's still perfectly reasonable that she might want to talk to a priest.

WeaselFire
06-10-2014, 11:49 PM
I'm getting a lot of mixed messages from my research, about whether or not someone who is non-Catholic (specifically, a protestant, raised Baptist) could go to to confession.
They can, but why would they want to? Baptists don't need absolution... :)

Jeff

Bolero
06-11-2014, 01:08 AM
snip I find that totally believable, and considering the negative attitudes toward homosexuality in a lot of Baptist churches, I could also definitely see her wanting to talk to someone outside of that church.

So it is worth it to be aware that there might be some animosity, particularly in the south, I think it's still perfectly reasonable that she might want to talk to a priest.

I was wondering if the Catholic Church would be any more positive than the Baptist? (No idea.)
Though the scenario of wanting to talk with a priest who didn't know who she was, and she had no chance of running into in her usual social life, as she wanted to talk both Christian and sexuality - that would fly for me too.

AuthorUnknown
06-11-2014, 03:09 AM
I was raised Baptist (like, wearing dresses below the knee, no rick music or dancing, etc Baptist), and there is no Confession. It was believed that you only ask god for forgiveness, a person (priest) has nothing to do with forgiveness.

And yes, homosexuality was very frowned upon. Like, they believed that it was a choice and just the devil talking to you.

frimble3
06-11-2014, 07:43 AM
So many factors, so many ways it could go down. Maybe she heard a 'progressive' priest talking and decided to trust him. Maybe she heard so many bad things about Catholics that she thinks they must be the 'experts' on sin and transgression.
And, yeah, if she's looking for religious information that might cause her trouble if it got around, likely she'd go to someone outside her own faith community.
Especially if there's bad blood between the local leaders: I don't imagine she wants them chatting at an ecumenical breakfast.
And it might make an interesting ice-breaker between her and the priest: "I want to confess. No, I don't want Confession."

cornflake
06-11-2014, 08:36 AM
I read the OP's post as the character was just looking for guidance/someone to talk to, and someone suggests a priest - which they certainly do regardless of the person's religion and it's confidential.

It's not an unusual thing - I've seen it in a number of places including the movie Easy A, which is the first thing to come to mind. The MC is freaked out about a lie having spun into something big and goes running to talk to someone - a priest, a rabbi, a reverend, whoever's in, basically.


If the red light is on over the priest's booth, that means he is in there and available to hear a confession. It's quite possible for anyone to enter the booth adjoining his. The priest will slide open the screen between them, and the confessor will say, "Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been ___ weeks, months, years since my last confession. Here are my sins..."

I think you have a possibility for some humor in this scene, Zach, as she wouldn't know much about the dialogue that's supposed to take place in there, and if the priest picks up on that, he may suspect that she is not a Catholic, or he may just think that she's been non-practicing for so long that she's forgotten procedure.

A red light? Really? That's either a modern church or the Truman Show. ;)

Maze Runner
06-11-2014, 10:10 AM
A red light? Really? That's either a modern church or the Truman Show. ;)

That or Let's Make a Deal!

I had to check. Thought maybe I was guilty of selective recollection again. Says there are lights outside confessionals in some churches, but it may be to indicate the ones that are taken by other confessors, and so you shouldn't go in.

Found a great thread, where else? On AW from a few years ago.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=126450