[quote=Digitonomy]There is nothing wrong with writing your sins on a piece of paper and then burning it. It could possibly constitute a sacramental - not sure if there are very strict rules for these things.
However, there should be consideration that such an action can be misleading or inappropriate as part of a religious service, especially one focussed on a real sacrament.
I think that the idea (as I recall it being practiced) is that you don’t actually confess much if anything off that list. You just get it burned up. Now, that said, if one does scribble down their sins on a piece of paper for confession as a memory device, it would be wise to burn them after you’re absolved.
To the question at hand…
The priest surely knows very well that sins need to be confessed orally. Who’s he foolin? The burden is upon HIM to answer where he got permission to do things this way. (He can’t, which is why he childishly appeals to “everybody else is doin’ it!” Sheesh, if I wanted to be crass with him, I would note that “lots of other priests have sexually abused kids, why don’t you just follow their lead on that too?”)
Here are a couple of things which might help:
- Since “the faithful are obliged to confess, according to kind and number, all grave sins committed after Baptism of which they are conscious after careful examination and which have not yet been directly remitted by the Church’s power of the keys, nor acknowledged in individual confession”,(16) any practice which restricts confession to a generic accusation of sin or of only one or two sins judged to be more important is to be reproved. Indeed, in view of the fact that all the faithful are called to holiness, it is recommended that they confess venial sins also.(17)
I also consider one of the best Church documents addressing these matters to be the following:
In any case, the Church can’t, and unfortunately shouldn’t have to, slap down on every little abuse that crops up. Just because a few people think it would be cute and fall in line doesn’t make it right. But then if Father doesn’t grasp that, perhaps he ought to have the papers giving him his faculties to hear confessions and absolve handed over to the bishop and burned up, also.