The "Unpardonable" Confession?

In the past few months I have had a few downfalls going on in my life, I’ve had domestic problems, financial problems, personal problems, etc. For example, I live with my step mom and dad. Her exhusband and her wife every couple of months are getting fired from their jobs and/or evicted from their apartments and almost everytime they do, she always insists that they come in and live wirh us until they get back on their feet.

They lost their job just before Christmas and they moved in with us, I didn’t find out about it until the day before they moved in. They always stay in my room. So I lost my room and I had to sleep in the living room for a month. They take advantage of people, they trash your property out, you name it they do it. Around the same time I had to get rid of my car because my previous job had been cutting back on my hours due to slow business and I wasn’t making any money. And I also had to dropout of college for a semester for the same reasons. I almost got fired from my old job a few weeks ago because an employee thought I was saying something about him and was taking it out of context and thought I was talking about him and took it as harassment. I was talking about something totally different. I just found out recently that our house is on foreclosure because my step mom has stopped making mortgage payments.

She lost her job just after Christmas because her business went bankrupt and my dad doesnt make enough by himself to support a family of 5. (TO BE CONTINUED)

So we’re practically broke right now. I have always had a strong bond with my dad but ever since he met his wife, he’s been treating me so much differently. He’s been ignoring me more and he gets offended by stuff I do and say that never used to be an issue for him before and isn’t to most people. I found out recently that he told me that I’m causing problems between him and his girl and who I am and what I do is upsetting her and Im causing problems with their marriage and she’s fed up with me.

He told me that this is just the way that she is and I need to do something about myself. She’s the beat thing that has ever happened to him and he’ll do anything to make her happy and I’ll just have to learn to accept it. He was pretty much telling me, I feel, that he’d choose her over me. I’ve been trying to move out but in this economy I can’t live on my own without a roommate and almost everyone I know has a roommate. Wirh my life the way it’s going, I felt like I had no way out. But then I was introduced to some pornographic images and I felt the urge to masturbate to them. I was literally down the entire day. But the felt up moment felt so good to me that it became a regular crutch for me to go to when I was experiencing difficulties. (TO BE CONTINUED)

I knew what I was doing was wrong but I continued to do it any way. I started doing it day after day after day just so I could feel happiness and have peace of mind. I’d feel guilty after doing it because I knew it was wrong and this is not how I’m supposed to live my life as a Christian man. Because I had no car up until last week, I would not go to mass because I had no way of getting there and my dad and step mom arent Catholic. And I havent been to mass or confession since Christmas Eve and me committing these sins regularly every day since, the numbers of my sin added up quickly. But last week I was finally able to go out and buy a car with the better money Im making at my new job. So I am now able to go back to Mass and Confession again.

Since my parish only offers confession by appointment, I went to another neighboring parish that offers it regularly. I go to that church half the time and know the pastor there. But I went to confession there on my day off from work and the pastor wasn’t there. It instead was an older priest, who I could tell was kind of old school. I went in there, confessed my story and my sins. All he did was glare at me, shake his head and he was even yelling at me after my confession was over. (TO BE CONTINUED)

I told Father that I was wanting to end it but all he did was give me a hard time. He told me that I did it all to myself and that I’ll juat get worse and commit the sin again and he “knows it” even though he doesn’t know me. He told me that he thought I was lying to him when I said I was sorry and that by lying to him Im lying to God. He said, “I think you’re lying to me and if you are I dont have to forgive you. But Ill give you the benefit of the doubt and do it anyway!!!” He said, “GET YOUR STUFF TOGETHER BOY!!! NO MORE INTERNET!! NO MORE STUFF THAT GETS YOU FELT UP!!! STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT STUFF. GET YOUR **** TOGETHER BOY!!! YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE TO SAY?” I said no. He asked what I was going to do about it and I told him I would go to our Lord and Lady in prayer and trust in them for help. He then told me to shut up and said, “No! You won’t do it any more, that’s what you’ll do!” He said prayer and asking for help will do no good. He told me I’ll only get worse. He told me my penance was a rosary. I said my act of contrition he absolved me and I left. I said my rosary and I left the pew in tears. I felt like I had been stabbed in the soul. I have never had such a degrating experience in church in my life. I know what I did was wrong and he had every right to tell me so. But the attitude that he had towards me was so unnecessary. I thought priests were supposed to bring consolation and mercy and positive environment towards the penitent. I almost fear going back to masd and confession now. Was the priest right to have done what he did? This is a true story.

Please think of the treatment from your priest as part of your penance and offer it up to God as such. Also think of it whenever you are tempted to sin in future - that sin won’t seem so worthwhile!

In my 30-odd years of confessing, to lots of different priests in different places, I can assure you that this sort of harshness is incredibly rare.

Just as you shouldn’t let one bad teacher keep you away from school or one bad trip to the dentist stop you getting regular dental checkups, neither should you let this keep you from Mass or confession.

Having said all that, no it wasn’t right. You can perhaps write to the priest (anonymously) telling him how badly he has affected you, and if need be to the local pastor or Bishop.

That priest is a nutcase. I am so sorry you had that experience! Perhaps he was projecting his own habitual sinful failures? Bless you for your repentance, especially with all of the nonsense you must deal with in your life. Forget that loser and find another priest/parish on your quest not only to God but also for healing. Being here is a great start!

May I also say I believe that priest’s treatment of you was a much worse sin than your porn/masturbation.

It certainly does sound harsh, but I believe that the priest was really trying to help you. There is an idea sometimes that, if confession of something is unpleasant, you will be more likely to stop yourself from doing it, because you don’t want to have to confess it. In these unfortunate days, I don’t think that idea works, because it seems more likley that the person will just stop going to confession. Possibly the older priest is still (in his mind) living in the days when not confessing a mortal sin would be unthinkable to most Catholics. In that environment, what he did might work.

And for some of what he said he was partly right, too. Praying for help is a good idea, of course. But what I think he was trying to get at is that you have to have a “firm purpose of amendment.” You have to have at least some idea that you will be successful in overcoming temptation. It will still be hard, even with God’s help. You will have to work hard and expect that you will succeed. You may be wrong in that expectation. However, if you assume that you will not succeed, there is a much smaller chance that you will succeed.

In fact, I believe that if a priest has good reason to believe that a “firm purpose of amendment” does not exist, he is allowed to withhold absolution. I haven’t heard of that happening many times, mostly I should think because the priest can’t know what is going on in someone else’s head, but I have heard of a couple of instances. Of course a priest couldn’t do that just because he had a feeling about it. In the cases I’ve heard of (from the penitents, not from the priests of course!), it was because the person was confessing the exact same sin over and over and not actually doing anything to avoid the near occasion of sin. Even so, that is pretty drastic. But the point in these cases is to sort of wake up the penitent to the seriousness of what he is doing and prod him to really do something to stop the mortal sin he keeps commiting. In practice, what it generally does is cause the penitent to choose another confessor. Not unpredictably.

BTW, the job of the priest in the confessional has nothing whatsoever to do with how the penitent feels when he leaves the confessional. Objectively, your sins were forgiven–that was his job.

That said, of course he went way overboard and it wasn’t nice for him to do that. The part about the lying was particularly inappropriate. But if you think of it more as “tough love” than just some priest being mean, it may help you. You can’t absolve him like he can absolve you, but you can forgive him, and the only one who is hurt if you do not forgive him is you. Certainly you can send an anonymous note to the priest or pastor as well. Just because you forgive him, doesn’t mean he should keep on doing it. :slight_smile:

And I certainly agree with Lily that yours was an extremely unusual confession experience.

God bless you and help you to overcome the problem, and grant you comfort and consolation regarding the things in your living situation that are out of your control.


It’s difficult to make myself feel too upset towards the priest, even though he responded in such a hysterical way, because the current cultural climate of atrophy probably exceeds the gas chamber in its malevolent brutality, but if you don’t think he’s a good priest to celebrate the sacrament with, then just go to another priest in the future. We are not bound to meet with X or Y priest, only that we meet with a priest to confess since they are the ordained representative of Christ and of the Christian community.

The reason Confession is more formally called Reconciliation these days is because the true emphasis of the sacrament is not on what we do - important though that may be - but on what God does, because it is only because of Him that we attain the restoration of grace that we seek. We confess, but it is God that reconciles, and you can be confident that this has happened if you spoke honestly.

Give it a few days and your nerves will settle down. Priests might occasionally be wisely shrewd in their speech but it’s extraordinary unlikely for you to run into another one that responds in such a way.

Priests, like all human beings, are subject to emotional flightiness and fits of anger. The tenor and threatening manner of what he did are simply indefensible, in the same way that looking at pornography is indefensible. (I’m a man, and I’ve struggled with it too!)

One of the things my local priest says to me at every confession is “don’t be discouraged!” Habitual sin has this way of beating you over the head until you either fall into discouragement (and give up) or complacency (and give in). Take heart, and put faith in the Lord’s insurmountable ability to forgive! There are few acts more insulting than to tell the Lord, after He has forgiven you, that you don’t believe Him!

All that said, we must be extraordinarily careful as men that we do not shift blame for sexual sins. Every second you think about, look at, or dwell upon lustful things, you are lending a little bit of your free will to the Devil (if you will). The more you lend, the less you have, and the more you *want *to lend! This is why the whole “I couldn’t help it” phenomenon occurs.

I used to masturbate every single day, and feel bad every single day, and repent… every… single… day… back when I was a Protestant. I feel like confession and Catholicism just shook me and said, “THIS IS SIN, YOU MUST SIMPLY STOP!” I think maybe that’s what the priest was trying to convey.

Do not paint yourself as helpless or at the mercy of temptation. Take responsibility for your actions, and cut it out. Don’t lose heart!!

I had a very bad experience with a priest in the confessional once, too. He berated me for coming in with a list and for not knowing of God’s great mercy for us - I felt he “beat me over the head with God’s Mercy.” As he was yelling at me I tore up my list and could barely remember any sins to confess when he was finally ready to listen to me say anything, not that it was very easy to understand what I was saying as I was crying at that point. When I left the confessional I fell to my knees in tears - I can’t imagine what the other people in line must have thought!

The priest in this incident is retired and seldom hears confessions in my church. I’ve encountered him only once since then and he was fine the second time.

I have not let that experience keep me from going to confession, though I do now go to every confession armed with quotes from Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church defending confession of “just” venial sins. Also, my spiritual director supports my use of a list going into confession. I won’t just sit like a meek victim again to be brow-beaten by a misguided priest. I respect them immensely but I deserve some respect, too.

OP, I hope you can get over this terrible experience you had and not let it keep you from frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the future.

Thank you so much Mary. I appreciate it. I’m sorry about your experience. The priest who heard my confession is retired too I think. I think he was even ordained before 1965 (aka before Vatican Council II)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit