Confession annonymous or open whose choice?


I am not going to quote verse and line.

Whether or not the confession is anonymous or not is up to the person confessing and not the priest. I went to a parish for a long time where the confessional was rigged to make it impossible to be anonymous and a current pastor at my parish mocks in his homilies those who try to give confessions anonymously. I have been at my current parish for 8 years, have not gone to confession there even once because of the priest being vocally against anonymous confession and just this year I have been to confession over 30 times.

I have made sure to tell the people I have sponsored into the RCIA about their rights in this regard and to let them know they can go to confession at another parish if they feel uneasy. One priest got wind of this and told me that if I need to hide behind a screen then I need a shrink, not a priest.


Pax Christi!

Anonymity is always a choice. As one who opts for face-to-face confession, I am shocked by this priest’s attitude. Can he do this?

God bless.


How is it “rigged to make it impossible to be anonymous?” I could understand if it is a small parish where everyone was close enough to know voices, but other than that I’m kinda confused.


Anonymity is a choice granted to the penitent by Canon Law. My suggestion would be to write and sign a letter to your pastor explaining that you would like anonymous Confession to be made available. Gently mention that he should provide this (e.g.: “I appreciate your desire to connect more with your parishioners in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but Canon Law grants the penitent the ability to opt for an anonymous Confession”). In the letter, ask that he writes or emails you back.

If the pastor still refuses, send a letter gently explaining the situation to the bishop, and include a copy of all correspondence. Don’t expect anything to happen quickly, but the bishop should correct the problem discreetly, and directly with the pastor.


The priest is not supposed to do this–the choice of going anonymously is up to the confessor. In our parish, we do ask the children going the first time to go face-to-face, for the experience of doing so, but after that it is up to them.

Similarly, the choice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand is up to the communicant–but there are priests who will insist on their own method. (Obviously, this does not apply when, for example, communion is given under both species by intinction, which is not too common these days, but is still possible.)


Not quite.

The penitent has the right to anonymous confession if they wish. The penitent does not have the corresponding right to face-to-face.

The priest can choose to offer only anonymous, but if he choose to offer face-to-face, he must also accommodate anonymous confession.

God Bless


I don’t know why some parishes eliminated the confessionals in the first place. I much rather confess in a confessional than in a room.

But even in the room, you should be free to stay behind the screen and confess annonymously.


Right. Our parish is set up so there’s a screen 2/3 of the way across. The penitent may walk around the screen and sit face-to-face, or kneel behind the screen.


I know what you mean by the rigged confessionals, our Cathedral Confessional has a screen to separate you from the priest, but when you walk in the confessional the priest can see you walk behind the screen…ruins the whole point of the screen.


Someone should start handing out bedsheets outside the confessional. Put the bedsheet on, walk behind the screen, remove bedsheet, begin confession.


But if you wanted to quote verse and line, this is what you would quote:

Can. 964 §1. The proper place to hear sacramental confessions is a church or oratory.

§2. The conference of bishops is to establish norms regarding the confessional;** it is to take care, however, that there are always confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely**.

§3. Confessions are not to be heard outside a confessional without a just cause.



Last weekend, I went to confession at a parish in another town. Though I have been to confession at a number of parishes, something happened that was totally new to me.

I started behind the screen and was going through my confession when the priest stopped me and asked me to come around to sit in a chair in front of him. It certainly caught me by surprise, but my impulse was to do exactly what the priest asked.

I understand that it is the penitent’s choice of being behind the screen or in front of the priest, but I have never been directed to change my choice before. If I preferred to stay behind the screen, and I do feel more open to say anything behind the screen, what should I do if that were to happen again? I have never heard of this one before and it has left me scratching my head.


You know, some people like going anonymously. I for one like to do it sometimes. Let’s respect each others preferences please?:wink:


2nd graders don’t have the same rights under canon law as everyone else? I understand encouraging them in one direction or another, for a variety of reasons, but it should always be up to them, even the first time.

I personally prefer face-to-face and I believe that it is better, but my opinion does not trump canon law. We cannot start trampling on the rights of children just because they don’t know any better.


Just say, “Thank you Father, but I’d rather remain behind the screen.”

God Bless


I’ve never gone any other way! So no disrespect intended. (Well, maybe a bit for those not making anonymity easily available.)


The way it was in this parish was you walk into a small room, two chairs side by side, a tiny thin nearly transparent curtain which the person confessing was to pull him or herself between them.

When I first came to the parish the sacristan gave me the tour and showed it to me, she smirked, “You can pull the curtain but your only kidding yourself if you think your fooling anyone.”


Alright! I guess it’s hard to understand people original intent over the Internet sometimes!:o Sorry for misunderstanding:)


You make an excellent point here, thanks for correcting me.


I guess what makes me angry is that a priest would actually try to shame people into having them do a face to face confession based on his preference.

My leanings are very traditional and I think anonymous is more sacred, it is my right and none of the priest’s business one way or the other.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit