Ask Father Hardon
Vol. 5 - #6, Nov / Dec 1999
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. Can a penitent release his confessor from the seal of confession
regarding his own confession? Anonymous
A. Yes, a penitent
can release his confessor from the seal of confession, regarding his own confession
of sin. One must be absolutely certain that the penitent does this with complete
freedom on his part. It must be assumed that the confessor places the penitent
under no pressure. Thus, the penitent is the prime mover in releasing the
confessor from the seal. There must be no pressure whatsoever from the confessor
obliging the penitent to release him from the seal.
Among others, one occasion for freeing the confessor from the seal would
be his desire to release the confessor from the burden of the seal where the
confessor would be unjustly accused. The key factor is complete freedom on
the penitents side. The confessor in no way can oblige the penitent to free
Q. Must a concelebrating priest consume both Eucharistic species
for his Mass to be valid? F.X., Washington D.C.
A. No. Of course the concelebrating priest must be fully conscious
of what he is doing. Both species, absolutely speaking, should be consumed
by every priest who is concelebrating the Mass. If one of the concelebrants
does not partake of both species, this may be due to his forgetting. Or it
may be due to the fact that he wants to avoid the risk of becoming intoxicated
by partaking of the consecrated wine. Absolutely speaking, the essence of
the Mass remains intact provided each priest who concelebrates partakes, however
little, of both species. To do so, involves not the validity of the Mass but
the validity of partaking of both species by every priest who is concelebrant.
To not consume at least a very small particle of both species, consciously
and deliberately, would be objectively a grave sin.
Q. Are there any other sins besides stealing when the penitent
must make restitution in order to receive a valid absolution? Anonymous
A. Yes. Suppose a penitent has lied about someones grave sin which
that person did not commit. The penitent, in this case, must positively retract
the falsehood. This may not be easy to do. But the priest who had given the
penitent absolution must be told the truth. In other words, a person can be
innocent of different sins which someone accuses him of having committed.
Thus, if a person is unjustly accused in confession of stealing, the harm
done to the innocent party must be removed by telling the truth and thus releasing
the innocent party of being charged with theft. But there are many other sins
of which a person may be unjustly accused. The accused persons innocence
must be restored. This may not be easy to do. But, objectively, an innocent
person must have his reputation restored by the unjust accuser telling the
truth about a person who had been wrongly charged with doing something that
was morally bad. At the very least, every honest effort should be made to
restore the accused persons good reputation.
Vol. 5 - #6, Nov / Dec 1999, p. 43
Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission