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  #1  
Old May 29, '10, 3:13 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

I'm curious about Canon 977 of the Code of Canon Law, dealing with the sacrament of penance, which says,
977. The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death.
Huh? First of all, are we talking about murder or adultery here? And second . . . huh? Not just "is reserved to the Apostolic See," but "is invalid"?

(You'll all be glad to know I ask out of pure curiosity, and not for any personal motivation!)
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  #2  
Old May 29, '10, 3:28 pm
Phemie Phemie is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

e
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
I'm curious about Canon 977 of the Code of Canon Law, dealing with the sacrament of penance, which says,
977. The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death.
Huh? First of all, are we talking about murder or adultery here? And second . . . huh? Not just "is reserved to the Apostolic See," but "is invalid"?

(You'll all be glad to know I ask out of pure curiosity, and not for any personal motivation!)
That would be adultery. The priest cannot absolve the person with whom he is having sex of that same sin.
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  #3  
Old May 29, '10, 3:46 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by Phemie View Post
e
That would be adultery. The priest cannot absolve the person with whom he is having sex of that same sin.
Ah! So "of an accomplice in a sin" means "of an accomplice of the priest's in a sin." That makes sense, and maybe in the Latin this line is clearer. I had read it such that if a penitent went in and said, "Gee, Father, I helped my friend cheat on his wife, and I feel really bad about it," he would be without recourse.
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  #4  
Old May 29, '10, 4:46 pm
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

Now here is a question - albeit not on the same question - but my dh and I were discussing it. We witnessed someone get disrespectful to our Priest. Would it be wise for same person to go to same priest for confession if that person felt they had committed a sin in that and could that priest take that confession and if for some reason that priest did not feel they repetent - say the person was a child and the parent was making them go would the priest have to give them absolution - somewhat an apologetics/humanist/hom much is a priest a priest and how much is a priest a man discussion.
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  #5  
Old May 29, '10, 5:29 pm
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

The priest acts In persona Christi - a Latin phrase meaning "in the person of Christ." Because of this, we aren't actually confessing to the man who is a priest but instead to Christ.

While going through RCIA I asked our priest how much he remembers about people and their sins after Confession. (At that parish, they only did face to face.) He said that he doesn't remember much if anything and I think he said it was a grace of God. I can't imagine a priest putting himself in judgement of whether a person was truly repentant or not.
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  #6  
Old May 29, '10, 7:18 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by joandarc2008 View Post
. . . say the person was a child and the parent was making them go . . .
this comes up in RCIA. It is wrong to force anyone to go to Confession or to confess to a certain priest. One can give suggestions and make recommendations, but everyone, including children, have complete freedom of choice in both cases.

On the other hand, I might force my child to go into the confessional and tell the priest that his father forced him to come in, but he doesn't want to confess. I suspect that that is cutting things a little close, but I can imagine cases where I might resort to it. Fortunately the matter never got to that.
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  #7  
Old May 30, '10, 2:26 am
PacoG PacoG is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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He said that he doesn't remember much if anything and I think he said it was a grace of God. I can't imagine a priest putting himself in judgement of whether a person was truly repentant or not.
It is really hard to fathom how much people can forget things easily unless you are dealing with people who have to remember.

I have practiced criminal law for 15 years. Police officers always have to refer to their reports and notes, and they are for the most part professional witnesses. Testifying in trials and other proceedings is part of their jobs. However, when you think about how many arrests they make in a day multiplied over weeks and months, it's a lot to remember.

A few months ago, I was called to testify at a writ hearing for a client I represented 12 years ago. He was trying to get his conviction overturned because he no longer wanted to register as a sex offender. Even after I was given the opportunity to review the court's file (my file was destroyed in accordance with state bar rules so I couldn't refer to it), I couldn't remember anything from 12 years ago.

Afterwards, I discussed my lack of memory with an older colleague. He said (and it's pretty much true) that after a while, all cases and clients (except the more memorable ones) merge into one big blurry case and client. And it's true.

My point, it's hard for people to remember when it is their business to remember; therefore, it is must be hard for priests to remember when they are making the effort to forget. If that makes sense.
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  #8  
Old May 30, '10, 8:51 am
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Arrow Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
Ah! So "of an accomplice in a sin" means "of an accomplice of the priest's in a sin." That makes sense, and maybe in the Latin this line is clearer.
Nope.
Quote:
Can. 977 — Absolutio complicis in peccato contra sextum Decalogi praeceptum invalida est, praeterquam in periculo mortis.
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  #9  
Old May 30, '10, 10:31 am
Spirithound Spirithound is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
977. The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tee_eff_em View Post
Quote:
Can. 977 — Absolutio complicis in peccato contra sextum Decalogi praeceptum invalida est, praeterquam in periculo mortis.
Tee is right in his short analysis. The Latin is not any grammatically clearer, as there is no pronoun specifying whose accomplice cannot be absolved. I think we must just use a little reasoning though. You reacted correctly to your original parsing of the sentence; it makes no sense that "somebody's" accomplice cannot be absolved, since we know that any sin can be repented of, and more to the point, the adulterer himself can be absolved.
So, it's good we got this straightened out
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  #10  
Old May 30, '10, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
And second . . . huh? Not just "is reserved to the Apostolic See," but "is invalid"?
The priest cannot be having sex with his secretary and then absolve her of that sin. However, if she goes to a different priest, she can be absolved, assuming of course that she repents. That is what the "invalid" thing is about. That particular priest does not have the power to absolve her. Even if he says the words, it is still "invalid". Sometimes priests do not have the faculties to absolve people of sins. Other times they do. If the penitent is in danger of death, all validly ordained priests have the faculty to absolve sins. Furthermore, in danger of death there are no censures that cannot be removed/lifted. The "reserved to whomever" does not apply then.
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  #11  
Old May 30, '10, 4:35 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by Pug View Post
The priest cannot be having sex with his secretary and then absolve her of that sin. However, if she goes to a different priest, she can be absolved, assuming of course that she repents. That is what the "invalid" thing is about. That particular priest does not have the power to absolve her. Even if he says the words, it is still "invalid". Sometimes priests do not have the faculties to absolve people of sins. Other times they do. If the penitent is in danger of death, all validly ordained priests have the faculty to absolve sins. Furthermore, in danger of death there are no censures that cannot be removed/lifted. The "reserved to whomever" does not apply then.
Yes, I've got it now. I had parsed the text differently, to say, basically, "Absolution of being an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death." Textually, it actually is ambiguous (thanks for finding the Latin, tee_eff_em), but when it's parsed differently it makes perfect sense.
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  #12  
Old May 30, '10, 5:59 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

I think this recently came up recently in the case of a priest who was abusing boys and assuring them that he would absolve them.
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  #13  
Old Mar 27, '11, 3:35 pm
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

I recently posed this question to the Ask an Apologist forum. Canon 977 seems to imply certain sins, but does not specifically identify them. Suppose a priest made a little bit of an off-color, impure joke during a homily or just an informal conversation, and a person subsequently laughed. Would that person be an accomplice to the priest in a sin against the Sixth commandment and thus be unable to go to him for confession?
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Old Mar 27, '11, 3:53 pm
malphono malphono is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by Catholic View Post
I recently posed this question to the Ask an Apologist forum. Canon 977 seems to imply certain sins, but does not specifically identify them. Suppose a priest made a little bit of an off-color, impure joke during a homily or just an informal conversation, and a person subsequently laughed. Would that person be an accomplice to the priest in a sin against the Sixth commandment and thus be unable to go to him for confession?
No.
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  #15  
Old Mar 27, '11, 4:15 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Canon 977 - absolution for the Sixth Commandment is invalid

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Originally Posted by Catholic View Post
I recently posed this question to the Ask an Apologist forum. Canon 977 seems to imply certain sins, but does not specifically identify them. Suppose a priest made a little bit of an off-color, impure joke during a homily or just an informal conversation, and a person subsequently laughed. Would that person be an accomplice to the priest in a sin against the Sixth commandment and thus be unable to go to him for confession?
Canon 977 actually does specify the sin: "The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death." The Sixth Commandment is "You shall not commit adultery," so off-color jokes are not covered. As explained in posts #2 and 3 above, what this canon means is that you cannot have sexual relations with a priest and then be absolved by him for it.
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