Forgiveness for the sin of cannibalism?

I was watching a cable program called “Church Secrets and Legends” that told of some Paris priests who, according to the story, inadvertently committed cannibalism (very long story, see below). The upshot is that supposedly today, the “only place” a Catholic can be forgiven for the sin of cannibalism is a Paris church called St. Medard’s. I cannot see how this can possibly be right. This sin is not mentioned in the Code of Canon Law as requiring special circumstances for forgiveness (as far as I can find), and at any rate those sorts of grave sins are usually reserved to bishops or to the Vatican for forgiveness, not to some church building. As far as I know, any priest can forgive this sin in the confessional. I found a few travel websites that repeated the story, one of which says that St. Medard’s is the only place in Paris where the sin of cannibalism can be forgiven. This program had some other sketchy and even outright false information (e.g. it said that excommunication means you cannot go to heaven, which is certainly wrong), so I am sure they did not bother to research this thoroughly. My question is, has anyone heard of this legend, and how much truth is behind it?

The outline of the story behind the legend is this: Suspicion of murder fell on a Paris bakery, whose owners were tortured until they confessed that they had been committing murder and baking the victims into meat pies. The priests at Notre Dame Cathedral were regular customers who ate these pies regularly. Since therefore these priests had been (unbeknownst to them) committing cannibalism, the bishop “had no choice” but to excommunicate them. (Problem #1: how is it a sin if they did it unknowingly?) He gave them permission to make a barefoot pilgrimage to the Pope at Avignon to appeal for mercy. They didn’t make it very far and settled near St. Medard’s where they lived as beggars. Later, the new bishop, entering Paris, was attacked by vagabonds and saved by these priest-beggars. In gratitude, he lifted their excommunications, but it was supposedly “not in his power” to restore them to ministry at Notre Dame (Problem #2: if not the bishop, then who?), so they were allowed to resume their priestly duties at St. Medard’s instead. And that’s why, according to the story, this is now the only place you can receive forgiveness for the sin of cannibalism.

That is the first I’ve ever heard of this. The problems you list here clearly go against canon law, leading me to believe that this is just a folk legend. I’ll bet you see legends like this in other parts of Europe as well.

God bless.

I think youve watched Sweeney Todd too many times.

** inadvertently committed** cannibalism (very long story, see below).

It’s pretty difficult if not altogether impossible to “inadvertently commit” sin.

That’s a whopper.
No pun intended.

Something akin to tasting like chicken comes to mind …

Never heard this one!

It is very possible when the people in question (Priests) had no idea of what they were being served.

I found the problem:

No … :nope: … Nope …

It is impossible to sin ‘inadvertently’

To sin requires a conscious decision … To commit a sin means that you understand the action to be a grave matter, that you know - with complete knowledge and understanding that the action is sinful … and then that you freely choose to commit the act … You cannot unknowingly commit a sin …

Thus a person who is fed human flesh by another person - and who does not know nor comprehend that the meat provided is human cannot be guilty of the sin of cannibalism - inadvertently or any other way …

This sounds like a story that was concocted to make a mockery of the Catholic faith - for it mocks the Eucharist. Catholics were indeed accused of cannibalism for our belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, We receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus …And it mocks the Sacrament of Reconciliation … with this concocted story of accidental - inadvertent sin … :frowning: There is real sin committed by real people. These sins harm the world, our society and the people who commit the sins. Confession and Forgiveness leads the sinner to be reconciled with God …

Actually it is not possible as to commit sin one must first know what they are doing is sinful and then must be doing it of their own free will.

I believe this is essentially what you’re saying, but wished to add clarity as it would not have been a “sin” for the very reason you mention…they had no idea of what they were being served.

Come on, lets be realistic. Pun was totally intended. Haha

Guess you guys have never seen Alive.




Haha, very true! Those cable shows are going to rot my mind—at least, they will if I ever stop thinking critically about what’s in them.

And yes, the thing about them supposedly being guilty of a “sin” they had no idea they were committing was one of the red flags… not possible. What if it’s a Friday during Lent and you’re served “vegetarian” chili without knowing that there’s actually ground beef in it? No sin of course! Same thing, even if the offense of cannibalism is much graver.

yes that is it. there are now too many post that are using anti-Catholic garbage like this. This is gross and sick. Either people are really bored and gravitate to lies or posting these types of questions to get some sort of rise or too many are just that gullible and don’t have the wherewithal to not watch junk. I think St. Paul “whatever is truth, etc etc, think on these things”.

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