Question about confession

My brother, who is a rabid anti-Catholic is outraged by the fact that Teddy Kennedy will be allowed the Christian Rite of Burial according to the Church. I tried to explain to him that we cannot assume the state of his soul at his death, and we don’t know if he received absolution before he died. My brother maintains that the world is “entitled” to know whether or not he made a last confession, even though we are not entitled to know the contents of that confession. He claims that the very act of going to confession is a public act, while at the same time he does understand the sanctity of the seal of confession.

My understanding is that it is no one’s business who makes a confession, and we are not “entitled” to know whether or not a person has done so. His stance is that the Church is making a mockery of her own teachings by allowing this wretched man the final rite of the Church.

He’s not extraordinarily intellectual, and he has a ham-handed approach to Scripture, so I would appreciate any sources you can supply me with. The Catechism is a little heady for him, so if I can find something like this for beginners, it would be gread. TIA.

Michelle Arnold just answered this question in the AA forum:

I’m afraid I don’t know whether the Church has any teaching specifically dealing with the privacy of the act of confessing. My guess is that a priest is bound to respect that privacy just as he would respect the privacy surrounding anything else he saw or assisted with at a person’s death-bed.

I am reminded of the conversation between Christ and Peter in John 21:20-22. Peter asks, “what about him?” (meaning John) and Jesus responds, “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” I think spiritual pride can be a real problem when it comes to the state of one’s soul. We know from the crucifixion that Christ can forgive someone (and does) even at the moment of their death.

Why does your brother think he has a right to know? I suspect that he simply wants something else to use as ammunition against the Church. And no matter what he hears, his heart is not open to the fullness of the Truth. Continue to pray that his heart will be opened. You don’t have to engage in conversations if they are fruitless. Although it’s important to correct false statements, always do in love and with patience and respect.

Thank you!! I don’t usually go to the AAA board. and this is exactly what I needed!

I read Michelle Arnold’s answer, too. It was very good. It’s another question whther the world has a right to know or not. I somehow don’t think they do. It really isn’t any of my next door neighbor’s business when I last went to confession any more than it is his business what I confessed while I was there. In Ted Kennedy’s case there is the potential issue of public scandal, since he was a widely known public figure, but still, the state of his soul seems somehow a most private matter between him and God. Even in the case of suicide, which objectively is the ultimate mortal sin in that it doesn’t seem to allow for a chance at reconciling, the Church currently allows for a funeral mass and Christian burial because we can not know the heart of the deceased. Therefore, we have no way of knowing whther the act was taken with full consent of the will or with intent.

The family, however, has apparently allowed it to be made public knowledge that he did recieve last rites according to the teachings of his faith, which would ordinarily include confession, communion, and annointing of the sick. We must assume then that he died in a state of grace. I certainly hope that he did. However many mistakes he had made in his life here, I would hope that he (and everyone, for that matter) would be able to reconcile with God before the end comes.

If he is a rabid anti-Catholic, what does he care?

Personally, I’m glad he’s allowed a funeral Mass- for his sake, I hope there are some EXTREMELY holy people assisting at that Mass and praying for his soul.

He likes to argue a point into minutae and claim victory. The Church is often his target.

Personally, I’m glad he’s allowed a funeral Mass- for his sake, I hope there are some EXTREMELY holy people assisting at that Mass and praying for his soul.


Ask him to review Acts 9 and consider how it reconciles with his standards.


I’ll see him tonight, and we’ll discuss it. Thanks!

ask your brother if the entire world is entitled to know every time he confesses and whether or not he was granted absolution

I am a rabid traditonal Catholic and I find it odd that I agree with your rabid anti-Catholic brother, but I do. The Catholic Church has denied Catholic burial rites to high profile criminals like Gotti on the basis of scandal. The definition of scandal is:


1.a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc. offense caused by a fault or misdeed.
3.damage to reputation; public disgrace.
4.defamatory talk; malicious gossip.
5.a person whose conduct brings disgrace or offense.

I don’t know who is worse, Mafia Don’s who use murder as a tool, sell drugs, force women into prostitution etc. or people like Nanci Pelos, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and others who promote abortion, embryonic stem cell research, homosexual marriage, contaception and so on. Always remember this people bear some responsibility for the 50 million or more abortions since Rove - Wade. What they have in common is that they are Catholic pretenders and are very high profile people. They profess to be ‘faithful Catholics’, publically and piously receive communion and then publically promote policies that are in direct conflict with the Holy Catholic Church.

I recently saw and article the new Archbishop of St. Lewis who is promoting Catholic dialogue rather than dissent. I wrote back and suggest the all of our bishops should spend less time pandering and more time preaching authentic Catholic doctrine. I asked if he could provide me one singe example where Jesus soft-peddled his message in the name of dialogue.

By not denouncing these ‘Catholic pretenders’ our Church leaders are guilty of spreading scandal and confusing pooly formed Catholics that see their silence and actions as tacit approval of these people and their beliefs.

What a shame. Ted Kennedy should have gone to jail for the death of Mary Jo Kopeckne in 1969, his Kennedy name and influence saved him. He was an avid supporter of abortion rights, etc. I don’t know how God will judge him and I hope for his sake he repented. But the Church shouldn’t honor a person who lived a life in opposition of Church doctine.

No, no Catholic masses or other honors should be bestowed on Ted Kennedy.

God Bless,

Iowa Mike

This, I did not know. The Abp. of St. Louis is Abp. Carlson. He was the bishop of Saginaw MI & Sioux Falls before being elevated. He is amazing.

Thank you!

I must respectfully disagree with Michele because she is assuming that he made a valid confession and renounced his positon on abortion, etc. No one but God knows if Ted Kennedy made a valid confession. If he didn’t he the last rites were invalid and he received communion in the state of moral sin like he did for most of his life.
I question whether he made a valid death bed confession, I hope he did and I will pray for the respose of his soul.

I’ve also have had the last rites of the Catholic Church, I went to confesson and to communion. I know in my heart that my confession was valid and I went into surgery with peace in my heart.

The real issue is scandal. Ted repeatedly said he was an ardent Catholic but his life, beliefs, voting records and personal behavior do not support his claim. How many Catholics have been led astray because they think that if Ted is a good Catholic and Ted supports abortion, contraception, etc., and the Church holds him in high esteem, then the Church must support thses things at some level too.

Giving Ted Catholic a Catholic funeral and other honors without correcting the errors the man lived is a scandal in itself. I suggest people reflect on the following:

Matthew 16

23 Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.

If not the bishops who will explain the obvious disconnect between Catholic honors and the way the man lived his life to the Catholic faithful and the rest of the world?

God Bless,

Iowa Mike

A Catholic Priest was at his side when he passed I do believe. He was there with the Family

Well let’s start with the story of the landowner who ends up paying the laborers who started work at the end of the day the same amount he paid those who started work at the beginning of the day. I think what we all need to remember is that Jesus came FOR the sinner. His mercy is unending. God wants us all to be saved.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion
have mercy on us and on the whole world.

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