In my opinion, as to the third part of your question “believing that a priest is wrong about some of the counsels that he gives during confession or that some of the things he said were true in fact aren’t,” First, second and third I would pray for the Holy Spirit for the gifts of wisdom and understanding. Then I would double check with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the fact. And, even if the Catechism seems to say the opposite of what the priest said I might consider that I had misunderstood the priest. In that case, you might want to ask the priest to explain what he meant. Respedtfully let him know that you are having a difficult time reconciling the truth as you read it in the Catchism with what you heard him say. I hope that helps.
#2 is really vague. Are we talking specifically about faith and morals? Because a teacher might think “that was a really bad way of talking to a kid,” or a mechanic might say “that wasn’t the best thing to do to your car,” if the Pope was doing something wrong. It wouldn’t be wrong to acknowledge that he could do it better.
Regarding faith and morals, you oughtn’t make a habit of doubting priests and should seek to understand why they’re doing something you don’t agree with, but here is some excerpt that may shed some light on the situation.
The Interior Castle,
Fifth Mansions, Chapter V, Part VII + IX
Saint Teresa of Avila
In reference to confessing her experiences to priests “…I have had great experience as to this and have also met with timid, half-instructed people whose ignorance has cost me very dear.”
“I know of someone [herself] who was unaware of God’s being in all things by presence, power and essence, yet was firmly convinced of it by a divine favor of this sort. She asked an ill-instructed priest of the kind I mentioned to tell her in what way God dwelt within us: he was as ignorant on the subject as she had been before our Lord revealed to her the truth, and answered that the Almighty was only present in us by grace. Yet so strong was her conviction of the truth learnt during her prayer that she did not believe him and questioned other spiritual persons on the subject, who confirmed her in the true doctrine, much to her joy.”
So I think if Saint Teresa ignored a priest’s counsel and went to talk to others thinking he was incompetent, well… I’m not exactly going to tell her she was wrong, are you?
Thank you for your reply. At question no 2 I was thinking for example at the dance bishops did at WYD in Rio de Janeiro. I really believe it was inapropriate. Or when I remember certain vague statements of Pope Francis, I was thinking that it might have been better to be more precise about it.
The story with St Therese of Avila is very helpful, I liked it a lot!
I agree with you on 1, but disagree in regards to 2 and 3.
With two, if for example, a priest commits a liturgical abuse, then that can be disagreed with. However, a person should give the priest the benefit of the doubt and hope that he did not intend to do anything wrong. Also, with three, of course if a priest encouraged a penitent to be impure, then they should of course disagree with it.
Or, for example, regarding a question about the love of God for us, I received in confession an answer that contradicts what I have heard from another priest outside this sacrement, and I was wondering if it was ok to doubt about this issue.
It’s a common thought to think that what a priest says to you during confession is comming directly from God and this is why I felt guilty for not believing it.
As a baptist in RCIA, this is an issue with which I struggle more than any other. Namely, obedience to the church and accepting unquestionably her teachings. While working my way through this, I have found a couple of items that help.
In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus tells others to follow those that sit in the seat of Moses.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3 therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.”
It goes on from there but that shows that even while sinful, those that were in the “seat of Moses” had authority.
In Matthew 19:3-9 It shows that when questioned concerning divorce, Jesus says that Moses allowed it when he should not have.
3 Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”[a]
Moses allowing something didn’t necessarily make it so because in this instance, it was still a sin but did not negate his authority otherwise.
Jesus created the “seat of Peter”. All the priests, bishops, cardinals, religious etc., are accountable to the chair and likewise, represent the chair. That tells me that “they” have the authority. They may do things wrong, as Moses did but a mistake does not lessen the authority. If they have the authority, then we as the members, have to be obedient.
Having said that, if the priest did make a mistake, we are in a brave new world with information available whenever we choose. You might find the priest made a mistake and explain your thoughts on it and help him in his error.
I don’t know if my thoughts will help any as it is obvious that I’m still in the process of getting my mind and spirit around all of this. Regardless, I hope the issues are settled for you in a way you can understand.
You just have to accept all of the official teachings of the Church. Canonizations are considered revelation and need to be believed. A canonized saint does not mean that person was guiltless in life, or that everything they ever said was true. It means that they are in Heaven, praying on your behalf, and that in they’re Earthly life they were exemplary in striving towards holiness. The Church hierarchy is not infallible in its everyday administration and you are not obliged (or even necessarily recommended) to agree with all of it, although generally speaking I think the Church does a pretty good job. Priests are not infallible in speech or in the confessional. The fate of each soul is entrusted to the soul itself. Pastors and the Church hierarchy are earthly shepherds. In the spirit of charity and truth, they must be treated with respect, and all prudential conflicts handled with reverence and deep consideration. Even if a pastor or bishop were to do something objectively reprehensible, you must understand that the office itself must be respected, while allowing justice to run its course. In military lingo: if nothing else, always respect the uniform. Why? Because order is very important to its mission. It is also very important in the Church’s mission. Look no further than the history of protestantism as to why it is important to keep a cool head and respect the office while any internal struggles are worked out.
I was vague because I didn’t want to turn it into a debate about which priest was wrong or right. I just wanted to know if, generally speaking, it is allowed to doubt about what a priest says during confession, especially if in that particular case I have heard another priest with a contrary opinion.