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Catholic Faith
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 penitent’s side. The confessor in no way can oblige the penitent to free the confessor.

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 someone’s 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 person’s 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 person’s good reputation.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 5 - #6, Nov / Dec 1999, p. 43

Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

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