Not stopping another from committing a potentially serious sin

I listened, a while a go, to a sermon where the priest bound those listening under mortal sin not to take their mobile (cell for the Americans) into the confession with them and draw on two articles. One, that a mobile phone could be tapped regardless of whether it is on or off and conversations listened to via it, and that the US law enforcement have done this, and secondly that the US government had bugged some confessionals in the states and used the evidence in court (or tried to anyway).

Anyway I recently asked to go to confession with a priest (it was in a room rather than a box) and just before he was shutting the door I stopped him so I could put my coat outside, saying my phone was in my pocket. He replied that his was off so it wouldn’t be a problem. In that few seconds I had I thought about it and decided, probably out of fear of looking stupid, but also because I didn’t want to cause a fuss, about this sermon I’d heard. Anyway, I confessed my sins and received absolution, participated at Mass and received Communion thinking everything was a-okay. I did, I should add, as we were leaving this room after confession mention this sermon to this priest, though he probably thought I sounded a bit mad and I was a bit flustered.

Anyway, it’s been troubling my conscious slightly because obviously I may have, through my negligence, allowed a grave sin to happen and this would could have, depending on whether I made sufficient reflection, have rendered my confession invalid.

So basically what do people think? I’m slightly worried too as the oriest I might have to confess this too (being the only one nearby) would be the same priest…

Pray for me…

On a side note I did wonder whether the principle of double effect came into play here… Which would obviously mean no sin was committed. But perhaps that’s just silly rationalisation…

Firstly, no priest can declare something to be a mortal sin that simply isn’t. That first priest sounds a bit paranoid, if that is in fact what he said.

Secondly, the preist you confessed to told you it wasn’t a problem. So don’t worry about it.

If your cell or mobile phone is sleeping, meaning it’s off but could ring, nobody can bug your conversation with it. If someone wants to bug the confessional, that certainly could be done. Maybe if this priest is paranoid, he should have his checked. Bringing your phone into the confessional is more of a problem because it could ring. It is prudent to actually turn it off so it can’t ring during your confession. Listening to it vibrate instead is still not a good option. Some people don’t actually know how to turn their phone off, which they should do a few times a week to clear its memory. If you don’t know how, ask a random teenager to show you. :slight_smile:

I have no doubt that in this day in age “Big Brother” is watching in more ways than we consider. That doesn’t mean what the first priest said about phones being able to record even while off is necessarily true but it is an interesting concern at any rate.

I think that you misheard the first priest. He cannot declare carrying a cell phone a mortal sin.

A “mobile phone could be tapped” is true. It is certainly not true that “the US government had bugged some confessionals in the states and used the evidence in court.”

I am not sure what sin you committed here. Without hearing the first priest, I probably wouldn’t worry about it since the second priest said it was not problem. I guess next time, I would leave the cell phone in the car hidden and locked. I guess I would be concern about leaving any cell phone out of the room in a coat with any chance of being taken even though the chance in a church outside the confessional is probably next to nothing.

Well, with respect, here is an article which shows one example where they have acton.org/pub/religion-liberty/volume-6-number-4/state-invades-confessional

As for mishearing the priest, you can judge for yourself files.audiosancto.org/20070930-No-cellphones-in-the-Confessional-Healing-and-making-our-souls-new-in-Christ.mp3 Please pray 3 Ave Maria’s for the priest before listening

Fraid not, battery has to be removed as even when off it can be activated news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html

Here’s the first priest files.audiosancto.org/20070930-No-cellphones-in-the-Confessional-Healing-and-making-our-souls-new-in-Christ.mp3 Please pray 3 Hail Mary’s for him before listening.

The second priest didn’t declare it wasn’t a problem at all, with respect. Rather he didn’t understand why I threw my own out and then when I did explain just humoured me

Your statement that “the US government had bugged some confessionals in the states and used the evidence in court.” is misleading. The cited case was not in a church, it was in a jail which was bugged. There is no evidence or claim that the recorded confession was ever used in court.

The priest does urge people not to bring cell phones into a confessional unless the battery is removed. He did not, as you claimed: “bound those listening under mortal sin not to take their mobile (cell for the Americans) into the confession.”

It is correct that cell phones can be tapped even when turned off and corded telephones can be likewise monitored. This is an area for concern.

So what should we do when going to confession and we have our cell phone with us, which most people do? Hide the phone somehwere in the church, or giving it to somebody to watch it?
And since most people (probably) do not know this problem, should we make this public, telling oru priests about it?

(meaning, if we have heard something is a mortal sin, aren’t we obliged to let others know? Even if we just read it over the internet, that a priest has said that? Or can it be that he really just addressed HIS community?)

As I said before, no priest can declare something to be a grave sin if it isn’t. And you have no obligation to inform others of such, nor even obey such a proscription yourself.

The only grey area here would be a person taking spiritual direction from a particular priest, which is not the case here.

Is that really so?
Because this is something I have often wondered about.

Um… but what exactly is the supposed sin here, i.e. which paragraph of the CCC/CIC is supposedly violated? If we’re talking about violating the seal of the confessional, then canon 983 binds only the confessor (priest) to secrecy, and not the penitent (you).

Next, a sin requires conscious action, so unless you are knowingly bringing a recording device into the confessional you cannot sin. One could argue that you sin by omission by bringing a potential evesdropping device. To which I would reply that if your priest is concerned by the cell phones being used for eavesdropping, then he should buy a cell phone jammer, and it’s him who would sin by omission by not having it.

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