Confession Changes

Another thread about confession made me curious if anyone else is experiencing this in thier diocese or parish.

Starting a few months ago, all the confessionals in my area started installing windows, so whether you go behind the screen, or face to face anyone standing outside the confessional can see both the penitent and the priest during the confession.

If there is no window on the room used for confession, confessions don’t happen there anymore, and instead the priest sits in the first pew in the front of church and you can sit next to him for face to face, or in the row behind him for behind the screen.

I think this must be to protect the priests.
I’m wondering if this is happening in any other dioceses.


What!? Like see-through glass our that type that you see that just someone is in there?
I would hate if this happened at my parish! It´s embarrassing enough to pass by people having the priest follow me to the confessional, if not they were to see me inside as well! What if I get emotional in Confession? Where´s my privacy and the decency of not forcing people to share that with those outside of the confessional!?


See through glass, like a window in your home but longer.

Your response is partly why I asked the question. I am not ‘embarrassed’ anymore about confession, but I know many people who are, including my husband who always goes behind the screen. I don’t think many penitents would choose this so I think it must be to protect the preist from accusations, which I am also fine with.

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Why not have a confessional completely separating the penitent from the priest instead?
We have that in my parish, and it would be very hard for the penitent or the priest to reach the other without walking out of the confessional. At the same time, we have privacy and no one sees who is inside.


I’ve never seen this type of set up in my area, but if the goal is to protect the priest I think it would accomplish that.

Not in our Parish but yes I can see that it is being done for protection of both the Confessor and the Penitent.

Our Confessional is one room about 8’ x 8’. You walk in and directly in front of you is the kneeler and the screen (actually a fabric wall that is only about 2 1/2 to 3’ wide going from floor to ceiling) with the Priest sitting behind it. He can not see who walks in. Or you can go a little further into the room and there is a chair at a diagonal across from him with a space of about 2’ or more between his chair and the Penitent’s chair. Only one door in and out(solid no windows) , NO windows in the room. It is only accessed from inside at the very back of the Church.

THANK YOU I’ve cried often in Confession and tried to compose myself before leaving and going back to my pew.


At one parish near me, the door to the confessional from top to bottom apart from the frame - which is metal - is clear glass. As you enter, there is a kneeler with a opague curtain for a screen slightly to the left, and Father sits behind this screen. There is also a chair straight ahead, which places you directly opposite Father for a face-to-face confession. I believe this is a good way, as the penitent sitting in the chair is in full view (consider clergy sex abuse), so anyone glancing in would see any funny business if it were to occur. Any sounds are extremely muffled, so on odd occasions it is possible to hear muffled voices - though no words.

At my own parish, we have the traditional confession. Father sits on one side in his ‘own room’ and enters through his door. The penitent enters through their own separate door, and kneel down behind the grill which also has a thick curtain on Fathers side. This way, the penitent can be heard but not seen, and there is no opportunity for anything to occur as both are in ‘separate’ rooms.

I have also gone to confession at a parish where the priest hear confession in the sacristy and had his back to the door, (not safe for his really, after all, somene could come up and whack him over the head and rob the sacristy), with a kneeler placed behind his shoulder.

Also I’ve been to confession, where due to the large numbers of penitents waiting in line for confession, another priest sat up front in the first pew and people knelt in the pew behind him, or sat next to him, whichever they preferred.

As people usually arrive when there is at least one other person waiting, or if the first there, are waiting for Father to arrive, then they are seen and it is obvious they are waiting for confession - so why would it matter if someone ‘saw’ you making your confession?

Our confessional has a small glass window (8 x 10") in the door; you can see the Penitent if you walk up and look in toward the right. I always give a quick look before I enter as our green light has lost its color.

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It is in all my Diocese churches. To protect both the confessor and the Priest.

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There have been earlier threads on the same subject. You may care to take a look at this one, from September last year.


Thank you! I searched for confession, not reconciliation. I’m sorry for the repeated post.

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We even have a mobile confessional that goes to where you are. Now when I say we I don’t mean my Parish. This is an AMAZING Priest who belongs to a Religious Community in South Louisiana a couple of parishes over. He takes his spiritual care unit all over and he hears Confessions and it’s been very successful. You NEVER would sleep during his talks, Masses, homilies. He’s FILLED with the Holy Spirit.


There should always be a screen. I would contact my bishop if I was you and if he doesn’t act, the CDF or something. We can choose to do face to face but confessing behind a screen is how it has been for centuries. If there is no screen there is no point of even having a confessional with a window.

Yes, it’s becoming standard to have windows in the doors of the confessionals, or to use a “penance room” with a window in the door.
It’s to protect both the penitent and the priest, as you said.

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Because many confessionals in USA are set up so the penitent can choose whether he wants to go behind the screen or face-to-face. The option for face-to-face means that the wall with the screen does not totally separate the priest and the penitent, as the penitent who wants to go face-to-face just walks around the opening in the wall and sits in a chair in the space with the priest, facing him.

Also, in USA most newer churches don’t have confessionals. They have rooms which can be used for confession if a kneeler and screen and chairs are put in, or the rooms could be used for something else when confessions aren’t going on.

It’s not considered a big deal for people to “see who is inside” because usually there are other people in the church while confessions are happening, either waiting in line to confess themselves, or in the pews praying their penances after they’ve been to confession, or doing any number of other things like preparing for the next Mass. So people are going to see you go into the confessional and see you come out of the confessional. If you wanted to keep it a total secret that you even went, you’d have to make a private appointment with the priest.


This is what sounds pretty typical where I live.

There could be the opening with the screen (in a frame) that could be slid over if the penitent wanted to go face to face with Father and then slid back.

One day I’ll take a picture for y’all.

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One other positive point to having windows -

Once went to confession, and the light wasn’t working. The door was frosted with a slight pattern and the room deep with the penitents chair almost against the back wall. I bent down to see if I could see if anyone was in there, and as I couldn’t see anyone, I assumed there wasn’t and so opened the door - only to open the door on someone else making their confession!!

Talk about feeling awful! So a clear door prevents this happening at anytime, but most especially if the “light” isn’t ON.

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