I’m a history student. Historians often say that confession in the Church was first public confession and private confession was a later development.
I originally didn’t bother looking into the matter, it didn’t effect my faith. I thought, “what does it matter if the way confession is carried out has changed, confession was still instituted by Christ and was His will.”
then I read on the Catholic Encyclopedia this quote from the council of Trent:
“As regards the method of confessing secretly to the priest alone, though Christ did not forbid that any one, in punishment of his crimes and for his own humiliation as also to give others an example and to edify the Church, should confess his sins publicly, still, this has not been commanded by Divine precept nor would it be prudent to decree by any human law that sins, especially secret sins, should be publicly confessed. Since, then, secret sacramental confession, **which from the beginning has been **and even now is the usage of the Church, was always commended with great and unanimous consent by the holiest and most ancient Fathers; thereby is plainly refuted the foolish calumny of those who make bold to teach that it (secret confession) is something foreign to the Divine command, a human invention devised by the Fathers assembled in the Lateran Council”
Seems to suggest that it essential that I acknowledge that Private confession has always been a practice of the Church.
The Catholic Answers tract also asserts this: “though private confession to a priest was always an option for privately committed sins”
Can anyone help point me to some historical evidence of confession being a private practice?