Discuss: Confession Face to Face: Bad Idea?



Go read the article and let’s discuss it here. He takes a very interesting point with the problems of face to face confession:

For a while seminarians and priests were being pushed or told or advised or urged actually to lay their hands on people while giving absolution. Let’s picture this: in an enclosed room, the priest puts his hands on the penitent?!? Again, that might have been well-meaning, but that’s just plain stupid. I hope no priest is still doing that. If there are any, I hope they have good lawyers.

Let’s have at it?


I have gone go Face to Face for many years and have never once had a priest touch me; They have held their hand up, palm facing me during absolution, but that’s it. So, no, I don’t think it’s a bad idea.


If it was up to me, and if I was the pastor of a church, I would probably have see-through grates installed with small velvetish curtains on the priest’s side in front of them. They would be closed for anonymous confession by default and if the penitent wanted to confess face-to-face, he could say so and the curtains would be pushed back. I would also require completely separate entrances for both priest and penitent leading into the confessional. This allows either style, while physically preventing accusations as much as possible in either case. This would also allow for the possibility of the priest being able to refuse face-to-face confessions, as is his right, if he judges it necessary or if he wants it.

This is a pretty simple solution that can be installed quite easily in most existing “box” style confessionals, but it might pose a problem for the silly “reconciliation room” set-up. Disregarding the psychological implications of anonymous vs. face-to-face confession, I think this is the best and most common-sense approach, which is of course why it probably doesn’t exist. (just kidding)

With box-style confessionals, a reasonably well-bodied priest can install this or can have a parishioner do it in less than an hour for very little money. Personally I view this from the perspective of protecting the priest and the penitent and I see it as quite imperative and such an easy thing to fix.


I really like that arrangement. I’m not sure how much it would cost, but even in many reconciliation room, a pastor serious about it could easily add a wall and a door. It would cost some more, but it would overall be worth it, in my eyes.


By the way, I have no idea why I added a question mark there… :slight_smile:


Picky picky picky, as I see it. The quote might be true, but it is also anecdotal and antiquated. When the majority of Catholics may never partake of the Sacrament (or all too rarely), why this focus on the physical aspect rather than the spiritual aspect? How is criticism of the mechanics of the Sacrament intended to invite the sinful back into the confessional?


I had 3 confessors that I confessed face to face with …they all do differently. One gives absolution in latin with hands down, the 2nd gives absolution in english with hand up, the 3rd gives absolution in silent prayer with his hands on your head. He always asks if this is ok first though. He is a really great guy. I liked him a lot, but dont get to see him much anymore. He is much too busy, and i live closer to the other 2.


Both are good at different times:

I like:
*]face to face with a spiritual director.
*]In the box when confessing to a priest I don't know.


I have only confessed face to face in a reconciliation room. For my 1st confession it was at his other church. The reconciliation room is also the cry room with a large window. I really didn’t like the fact that everyone in the church could see we were in there and that I was confessing. They could see my face and they could read my lips (if they do that).

Face to face = I’l alright with it
Out in the open = nope, never again

I don’t have a problem with anyone knowing I went to confession. I have a problem with them watching.


My first confession’s yet to come. That said, i’m not too keen on the idea of a face to face confession in the open. I’d prefer something more private, with some semblance of anonymity.


I would say the mainstay of the customary Confessional Box and Face to Face confession largely depends on when the parishioner was born and what he/she was sacramentally accustom to during their spiritual journey and growth in the Church.

I have preference to the Confessional box but have also confronted a priest face to face.
My only problem comes from priest in parishes where confessional boxes were the mainstay and some priest’s choose to demolish the old confessionals in preference for face to face, for the sake of newer modern customs. Seems the value of anonymity of ones secret confession to a priest has no place in many modern built Catholic Churches.

Too old and archaic like the former communion rails that symbolized reverence, a sacred the area of a church close to the altar.:shrug:


There was no chance of anonymity b/c I had to make an appointment with him to do it. Actually, I’ve had to send him a text each time b/c he’s not there waiting to see if anyone wants to confess.

I say out in the open, but we were in a room. It was just that everyone standing around in church could see us.

I’d tell you not to be nervous, but you will be. Just remember, there probably isn’t anything you could say that he hasn’t heard before. He won’t judge you. They also make it a point to forget what they heard once you leave.


i dont like the face to face confession it honestly seems like a counseling session and is too focused on me and the priest rather than Jesus and His mercy He shows me for my sins. thats not what confession is, it’s about you going and having your sins forgiven and then trying to not sin again, not be counseled on why your a good person and making your sins seem insignificant. i prefer the confessional box where there’s a screen between you two. it makes it more reverent and i feel so much more of Jesus’ mercy. it truly feels like im confessing to Jesus , but that’s just my opinion


I preferred face to face when I was younger. Now that I’m older I prefer confessing behind a screen. I think having both available is fine. I’ve never had a priest touch me during a absolution though…


Should have both available, face to face for some and with youngsters can be terrifying


I only do confession face to face.

It's a way for me to "own" my sins. I tell the priest and he is right there looking at me. Parishes around here have Reconciliation rooms with a kneeler and screen and a a chair facing the priest .


What, a priest lay his hands on a pentitent??? Who would have thought of that? That is such outrage!!!





The point is to protect people, especially children, from being touched by potentially predator priests–let’s face it, it can happen–and, just as importantly, protect the priest from lies and false accusations and people looking to cash in.

It is fully possible, as I have shown above, to have box-style or even “reconciliation room” confessionals with physical barriers between confessor and penitent, and separate entrances, while still allowing for both anonymous and face-to-face confession. I really don’t understand why more care isn’t used in designing confessionals.

In my opinion they should:

Protect penitent and priest by having barriers and separate entrances
Be in a place with good traffic like the nave
Be architecturally beautiful and coherent


Understood. Yet, the article spoke only of decades old, nonspecific anecdotes. I find that odd.

The “controversy” strikes me as somewhat contrived.


Father Z was extremely non-specific, and did not provide even anecdotal evidence of a single occurrence. I have never heard anyone mention being touched during the Sacrament. Anyway, he clearly identifies this in his blog as a personal rant. I would hope that he has spoken with his Bishop about this.

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