Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 80.

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

This is the doctrine of Lugo and Lacroix;  Sanchez, too, defends this view on the ground that the solemn vow is in substance or in se not distinct from the simple vow. His authority seems to have won over many theologians to the same opinion. Gury also holds this view; but the Ratisbon and Roman editions of his valuable manual reject it in the notes. Lehmkuhl,  moreover, opposes it and teaches that to incur a personal sacrilege (and this is the question under discussion) the person sinning (or with whom the sin has been committed) must be consecrated' to God publico, auctoritate, i.e. by Holy Orders or by vows of religion. Hence by the violation of a private vow of chastity a sacrilege in its strict and proper sense is not incurred, though a sin is committed against religion by the breach of fidelity to God. Sacrilege is incurred by the abuse of a sacred object. Now that cannot be called a sacred object which is privately consecrated to God without any recognition on the part of the properly constituted authorities. A private vow cannot produce this effect, for the common teaching of all theologians, a few excepted, maintains that the breach of such a vow is a violation of fidelity, not of the reverence due to God, at least not in such a degree as to constitute a sacrilege strictly so called. Thus the more correct view is that of those who hold that, in confessing sins against purity, the circumstance of Holy Orders and of the religious vow is to be given; for whoever confesses as doubtful a circumstance which certainly changes the species of the sin does not fulfil the precept of confession. Such may be the case, for instance, where a priest conceals the circumstance of Holy Orders and mentions only the violation of the vow of chastity; for the violation of this vow is certainly a sacrilege for those in whom it has been solemnised by the reception of "Holy Orders," while that of the simple vow is only doubtfully so.

Parish priests by scandalising their flock, parents their children, teachers the scholars under their instruction, incur a special sin against charity. Such persons have in virtue of their office the strictest obligation to edify those entrusted to them and to keep them away from harm. The case of a confessor who gives scandal to a person who happens to be his penitent is different; but he is obliged to mention the circumstance of this relationship when he has given scandal in connection with the administration of the Sacrament; his office as confessor only imposes on him the strict duty of guiding the penitent safely in the Sacrament of Penance, and is only transitory, ending per se with each confession, while that of the parish priest and of the others mentioned above demands a constant spiritual care of those entrusted to them. Other offices involving authority do not change the species of the scandal given to subjects, though they may increase its malice, if, for example, a master leads his servant into sin. The dignity of a person does not of itself change the species of the sin of scandal given to his subjects, though it increases the gravity of a sin. If, however, a master has taken upon himself the duties of a parent, for instance, towards his servant-girl, he most certainly incurs a new and distinct sin by scandal given to her, and must mention his special relation to the girl.