Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Confessional. Part 69.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke


21. Necessity of the Integrity of Confession.

The confession is complete when the penitent reveals all the sins which he is bound to tell. A distinction is drawn between material and formal integrity. A confession is materially complete when a penitent discloses all the mortal sins committed since Baptism which have not yet been submitted to the keys, together with their number and species. On the other hand, the confession is formally complete when he confesses all the mortal sins which he is morally able and bound to reveal hic et nunc. 1

The following well-known definition is much like the above : the confession is materially entire in which nothing is wanting which per se loquendo ought to be confessed, i.e. when nothing is wanting which de se forms the necessary matter of confession; the confession is formally entire when nothing is wanting in the accusation through the fault of the penitent. Cf. Konings, 1. c. n. 1359.

Moralists are not of one mind on the definition of formal and material integrity; some understand by material integrity the avowal of all mortal sins not yet confessed which occur to the mind (after a careful examination of conscience, as Miiller expressly adds, 1. c. 120), since they form the materia necessaria sacramenti et confessionis; formal integrity, on the other hand, consists in the avowal of all mortal sins which here and now (hie et nunc), taking all the circumstances into consideration, can and ought to be confessed. Thus Gury, 1. c. Edit. Komana (Ballerini) et Edit. Lugd. (Dumas), n. 468 (where, however, the author is not quite consistent, cf. n. 470) ; while ou the other hand the Edit. Uatisb. as also Laymann, De Poenitent. cp. 8, n. 5, and Stotz, 1. c. Lib. I. P. III. Q. II. art. IV; Scavini, 1. c. Tom. IV. Tract. X. Disp. I. cp. II. art. II. n. 38. have the above definition. We give the preference to it on grounds which will appear in the course of the treatise; moreover, it is more common and is in harmony with the teaching of the Council of Trent. The words which St. Alphonsus employs in the definition of material integrity seem to favor the latter view. Cf. Lib. VI. n. 465.