Windows on Confession Rooms?


Hello. :slight_smile: I have noticed that a lot of confession rooms have windows on them, and some priests open the blinds on these windows. This is different from the traditional confessional, which doesn’t have any windows.

What are your opinions on this? Is it inappropriate for a priest to leave the blinds open, where everyone outside can see the priest and the penitent? Should not confession be private? Personally, if I was confessing, I would want the blinds to be closed, as I would feel uncomfortable with everyone being able to see me.

Thank you.


I’m guessing that the priest is allowing light to come in as some people feel more comfortable in natural light than darkness, plus if they need to read the Act of Contrition they may more easily do so. I can’t really imagine anyone passing by a Catholic church to peer in the windows and spy on who’s going to Confession. Plus, since we usually have to line up for Confession, others are aware of what we’re doing. You do realize that others see you when you’re in line- does that make you uncomfortable?

As for my parish, it has a recently built Confession room. It’s very nice, and definitely private as far as not being able to hear the person in there, which is a big plus. The only drawback is that the room heats up horribly in there while the rest of the church is pretty cold. The last time I went to Confession, the priest had us open the door for 30 seconds to cool off the room before the next penitent- myself- went in.


I don’t like this and try to avoid confessionals that have windows. I prefer my Confession to be private.

As an aside, one large parish near me had traditional confessionals. There was always a crowd for Confession and they even had to turn people away so that they could start Mass. Then they did an expansion and put in Confessionals with glass doors. There’s rarely any wait now. I hope that the change simply sent people to other parishes for Confession and didn’t drive them away entirely. :frowning:


It is a different day when the church has to be concerned about protection for both the penitent and from lawsuits. The windows are only on reconciliation doors because there is no wall separating the priest from the penitent like there is in the traditional confessionals. The Reconciliation Room is seldom used in our parish other than for those in a wheel chair. Our pastor and visiting priests use the confessionals.


It wouldn’t bother me to have blinds open. After all, if someone is paying attention, they can see you go into the confessional anyway, so they know who is in there.


Yes, ours has a french door. The way our confessional is designed, you have to walk down a small hallway that runs past it, in order to see in. So I don’t mind the door with windows on either of our face-to-face confessionals. We have two confessionals, one on the left side of the altar and one on the right side. Usually only one confessional is open for reconciliation.


In some older churches, in the olden days, there were only heavy drapes over the doorway to the confessional. That would have left me a little worried that someone might overhear me.

On the other hand, while I was stationed in West Germany, the parish church in my village had doors, but they were glass doors–I guess so one could see if it were occupied or not.
I never went to confession there, because I would have been worried that everyone would have been able to see me (lip-reading?), and timing me!:eek:

Don’t know which was worse?

Sure glad my current parish has confession behind closed, solid doors, with a screen between myself and the priest.:thumbsup:


In the old world, some confessionals enclose only the confessor – Penitents remain outside without even walls, let alone a door!



Im guessing the windows are meant for those suffering from closterphobia


‘Confessionals’ usually don’t have glass doors, there is no need since there is no possibility of physical contact between priest and penitent.

Some dioceses, mine among them, have mandated glass in the door to the Reconciliation Room so that the priest and the penitent are protected. Note that schools do the same thing.

I doubt that lip-reading would be much of a problem since the penitent would be facing at least partially away from the door.

As someone posted above, there was nothing but curtain a closing off the penitents’ sections in the confessional in my home parish when I was growing up and I was surprised how many confessionals I saw in Europe last summer that were wide open except for the priest’s section.


As well as, sadly in these times, lawyerphobia - and with good reason.


I’ve seen this in a few parishes. Maybe it’s so the people outside know that the confessional is occupied? I personally would be more worried about being heard than being seen, but you can always ask the priest to close the blinds. Don’t feel shy about expressing a need for more privacy.


If you visit St. Peter’s in Rome, you will find many confessionals where the priest is in the “box” and the penitent kneels in the open. This is fairly common in the oldeest churches in Europe. Confession is intended to be a private sacrament and the extent of that privacy should be at the comfort of the penitent.


At my church they have a plastic window, but the priest can,t see you,but they you can go to the other side and have a face to face with the priest. I use both,either I go face to face or I use the side he can,t see me. When I use the side were I,am with the priest I,am not afaid,because what I say is between me and God,so even if the Priest knows what sin,s I say before him,he can,t tell any one,and sometimes the priest has talk to me, while being in with him,and has help me,in what he said,s.


Windows I believe are better, do to the fact that confession is the absolution of sins. And sins we all can agree are dark. And how does one eliminate darkness? With light, I believe the priest does this for the comfort and peace of an individual and to mirror the effect of the power of confession. It doesn’t matter if people see you(they don’t hear you), confession is the owning up to sin(s). And sin is the result of an imperfect world/person. Which we all are. God Bless


I believe these windows are for the protection of the priest and penitent against claims of improper behavior by either. In this day and age, it seems this might be a good idea.


I never even considered this…This could be especially helpful in parishes that were touched directly by the scandal. Perhaps this is why my parish (with the traditional confessionals) no longer has “face to face” confession, as well.


As I said previously, our diocese mandates that reconciliation rooms have glass in the doors so that people are in full view for precisely that reason. Our diocese has been almost bankrupted by sexual abuse lawsuits and they care more about avoiding more than making someone feel ‘private’.

There’s never been a guarantee of privacy with confession, only of confidentiality. The Church doesn’t guarantee that nobody’ll know you went (unless the priest was the only one around) only that nobody’ll know what you said.


It is my understanding that “face to face” confession is an option for the penitent only if the confessor has opted to allow it. That is: In ordinary circumstances, a priest can insist on using the fixed grille, but *may *allow for otherwise – But the penitent does not have any kind of “right” to a “face to face” confession.



Actually I would love to find a confessional with windows. The natural lighting might help reduce the stress of the confessional. Also, if you are one who typically goes in with a list, it will be easier to read (one time I tried reading my list in utter darkness, and ended up leaving out several sins in my nervousness.)

The best solution would be to have windows with curtains that the penitent can freely open or close from the inside.

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