Did my friend receive bad advice in Confession?

A friend was telling me about his experience in the confessional yesterday. He has a problem with the sins of lust and masturbation.

This was the priest’s response (paraphrased of course):

Well, you have to understand…at your age, you are getting very in touch with your body and hormones can be overwhelming It’s very important that we do things for the benefit and glorification of God. Women have a meunstral cycle which releases all kinds of hormones and benefits the woman both mentally and physically. Men have no outlet for that other than intercourse. When I was in the seminary, my spiritual director told me and I agree that it’s important for proper health to “cleanse” yourself maybe say, once a month, to purge bodily fluids and the sort. But you must not “use” someone thru pornography, fantasies or lust.

Did my friend receive bad advice and if so, what should he do?

Dear CJE,

Your friend did indeed receive bad advice. The priest had no right to say that men have to purge themselves of such fluids every month. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in # 2352 states that masturbation “is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” In other words, it’s a mortal sin.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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