If it’s on CNN it must be true: Priests no longer needed for Confession

Why do people who are completely ignorant of an issue/topic always feel compelled to speak on the matter without even trying to find out about it?

NewsBusters.org: CNN’s Kyra Phillips Reports Priests Aren’t Necessary for Confession

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Mike Bates

By Mike Bates | February 08, 2011 | 13:32

Today on CNN’s Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips reported on “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” available from iTunes.  Describing herself as  a  “woman of the cloth,” Phillips claimed the app meant “. . .you don’t have to go to church. You don’t have to go see the priest. All you do is you go on to this app. . .”  She also said the app is endorsed by the Vatican. She was wrong on all counts. Designed to assist Roman Catholics in examining their consciences while preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the app doesn’t end the requirement to go to church (in most situations) and see a priest. Moreover, while the developer does indeed claim an imprimatur from the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, that doesn’t signify Vatican endorsement. [First on the issue of “most situations” what Bates is referring to is the confession of venial sins (CCC 1458). There is also the understanding that if one expresses perfect contrition for sins committed, those sins will be forgiven. But because we have no clear, ordinary means of judging even ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:3-5), we must use the ordinary means provided to us by Christ, which is confessing our sins to His priests through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (John 20:23, James 5:16).] In the first segment of Newsroom, Phillips engaged meteorologist Rob Marciano in a discussion of the app:

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CNN Moderator Kyra Phillips. Image via Wikipedia.

PHILLIPS: This is the new app for sinners. Have you heard about this?

MARCIANO: What are you implying? Why are you dragging me into this?

PHILLIPS: Can you remember your last sin?

MARCIANO: Yes. Just a few minutes ago.

PHILLIPS: Yes. Exactly. You can remember it. Anything that you can confess to me right now? [Here she is obviously showing disdain for the Sacrament and consequentially for God.]

MARCIANO: You know, you’re not a man of the cloth although I gave them a break a long time ago. [Well, this appears to be a real confession concerning a falling away from the Church. What do you think? Sometimes we say more when we mean to say less.]

PHILLIPS: I’m a woman of the cloth, OK? [More disdain for the Sacrament, for God and a seeming disagreement/ignorance on the fact that women cannot be ordained priests.] All right. Here’s the deal. For $1.99 you can now get this app, all right? And it’s for sinners. And I’m not [Wow. She must not be human.] — and the Catholic Church is actually saying — endorsing this. [Wrong.] So you don’t have to go to church. You don’t have to go see the priest. All you do is you go on to this app, OK, you log in. [Completely wrong. The Church teaches that, “Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance” (CCC 1456). A priest cannot properly hear your confession or gauge your contrition, which he is given the authority to do, without being you speaking to them “face-to-face.”]

Unsuccessful in getting Marciano to confess a sin or two, Phillips then went through portions of the app:

PHILLIPS: You type in your sin, all right? Go to the next part, then comes the “Act of Contrition.” And you say the prayer here. My God, I’m sorry for my sins with all my heart in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Amen. OK? You say the prayer. Move on to the next part and here you go. [The Sacrament nor the app work in this fashion. In order to receive absolution of your sins , by the ordinary means of the Sacrament, one must first be, at least, imperfectly contrite and have confessed the sin(s) directly to a validly ordained priest. Like prayer cards and even the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer), we are present with something written and/or memorized that we should recite/pray with the full intention of the heart and will. The words are composed for us so that we can properly express our contrition, petition, etc.]

You receive absolution and you respond “Amen,” then the priest says, and I guess, I don’t know, maybe you just read this, maybe you can act as the priest. Give thanks to the Lord and he is good. Answer? For his mercy endures forever. So I don’t know. You can someone there to play priest. OK. You’re done it. You’re finished. [Here’s the thing, Phillips just contradicted herself by stating that a person no longer needs a priest to receive participate in this Sacrament. Next, she, again, shows her ignorance and disdain for the Truth by implying that the individual can play the part of the priest or even get some other person to play the part. Validly ordained means just that. At ordination, a priest receives an indelible mark on their soul – forever changing them. Another point is that a priest cannot absolve themselves making Phillips statements all the more foolish.]

After more inane banter, the piece ended:

MARCIANO: How about that.

PHILLIPS: $1.99, brother. There you go.

MARCIANO: And saving the Catholic Church a lot of man-hours. You know? The priesthood is in demand. Supply is down. And guys like me, you know, having them line up around the corner because I’m keeping them in there for hours at a time. That is fantastic. [Well, well, well. Marciano just spoke some serious truth that the secular media does not often report. Here in the States but especially in places like Africa, vocations to the priesthood and religious (for men and women) are booming. So much so that monasteries and seminaries often lack the space to accommodate those interested in these vocations. Remember the controversy in South Dakota or Wyoming over the proposed expansion of a monastery? Anyway, it would also appear that there is a significant correlation between the orthodoxy of the seminaries and monasteries (religious orders) in relation to their growth, particularly with the younger population. Thanks be to God!]

PHILLIPS: Isn’t that terrific?

MARCIANO: Yes.

Phillips went on to amplify her ignorance during the next hour when again she discussed the app.  Now she stated:

PHILLIPS:  It’s a Roman Catholic app, it’s called Confession. If you don’t want to go to church, if you don’t want to see the priest, if you don’t want to, you know, it takes a lot to get in the car, think of everything you’ve done wrong.

She then went through a mock confession with Marciano, completing it by placing her hand on the meteorologist’s head to “forgive” him: [Yeah…absolution does not work that way. So sad that CNN would employ such an ignorant anchor/reporter.]

MARCIANO: And this is endorsed by the Vatican? [And meteorologist too.]

PHILLIPS: Yes, it is. $1.99, you confess on your iPad, and you are good to go.

MARCIANO: For those who think the Vatican is in the dark ages, I mean, get on with the iPad right there.

PHILLIPS: They were one of the first, you know, the Roman Catholic church to go on-line, do YouTube, start talking about, you know —

MARCIANO: (INAUDIBLE) I feel cleansed. I feel so much more pure.

PHILLIPS: Let me heal you right here, I got to get on the head. Bless you. Thank you, Rob, for playing.

Some viewers may consider Phillips’s silly patter,  blatant disregard for facts, and mockery of a sacrament to be blasphemous. [Allow me to raise my hand.] Perhaps they would have expected more from a self-styled woman of the cloth.  Then again, this is CNN, the most trusted name in news.  Or so they allege.

via CNN’s Kyra Phillips Reports Priests Aren’t Necessary for Confession | NewsBusters.org. Let me just end this inline commentary with this thought: it remains quite cool to mock Christianity but in particular, Catholic Christianity – you know the only True Church of Christ (established in AD 33). I guess that is one way of affirming your faith, should you be so inclined. Here are some Scripture verses speaking to this Sacrament (taken from by Cheat Sheet): Confession

  • Mt 9:2-8 Son of Man has authority to forgive sins
  • Jn 20:22-23 – breathed on them, “receive Holy Spirit” [cf. Gn 2:7]; whose sins you forgive/retain are forgiven/retained
  • 2 Cor 5:17-20 – given us the ministry of reconciliation
  • Jam 5:16 – confess your sins to one another
  • Mt 18:18 – whatever you bind & loose on earth, so it is in heaven

And a word from the Church:

1455 The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.

1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.”[1] When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.”[2]

1457 According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.”[3] Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.[4] Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.[5]

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.[6] Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:[7] Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear “man” – this is what God has made; when you hear “sinner” – this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made …. When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.[8]

— 1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church


[1]Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); Ex 20,17 Mt 5,28

[2]Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); cf. St. Jerome, In Eccl. 10, 11: PL 23:1096.

[3]CIC 989 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1683 DS 1708.

[4]Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1647 1661 CIC, can. 916; CCEO, can. 711.

[5]CIC 914

[6]Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1680 CIC, can. 988 2.

[7]Lk 6,36

[8]St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 12, 13: PL 35, 1491.

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