Q. Could I go to confession online, or over the telephone? I heard I can’t. Why not?
A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that in the sacrament of penance, or confession, Catholics “obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.”
When we confess our sins to a priest, and are forgiven, we are confessing them to Christ himself. The priest stands in the place of Christ, and extends the mercy of Christ to us. The Church says that confession of sins must take place in person, speaking person to person with the priest, and not through any medium, such as the telephone or the internet. The reason for this is because confession is a personal communication with Christ, and such a communication involves being physically present to Christ’s mercy, through the person of the priest.
Additionally, the sacramental seal of confession requires absolute and strict confidentiality, and the danger of disclosure or recording, when the confession is not person to person, is too high.
Confession is offered in the Diocese of Lincoln every day, and at many hours of the day. And priests are always willing, when time allows, to meet with Catholics to hear their confessions. But, confession is a moment of personal closeness with Christ, and the most important moments of closeness between people happen when they are physically present to one another—hearing one another, speaking freely to one another, encouraging one another, and comforting one another. It is a grace, given to us by God, to have the experience of receiving Christ’s mercy in person, through the ministry of the priest in the sacrament of confession.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.