Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 85.

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

Appeal is made also to the Catechismus Romanus, which directs that those circumstances should be confessed "which greatly increase or diminish the malice." It may be objected to this, however, that the context makes it clear that there is no necessity to interpret the passage as referring to circumstances which merely increase the degree, not the kind, of the guilt; for the Catechism continues thus: Many circumstances are so serious that in them alone lies the whole gravity of the sin, so that they ought to be confessed; but the only circumstances which can make a sin grave are those that change the moral or theological species. This is confirmed by the fact that the Ritual prescribes also that circumstances very notably diminishing the gravity of the sin should be revealed; for even the opponents grant that this has force only when the mitigating circumstances change the species. Moreover, the Catechism illustrates its doctrine by declaring the necessity of mentioning the circumstance of "a person consecrated to God " in a case of murder, and the circumstance of "marriage " in the case of impurity; and these belong to the circumstances which change the moral species. Finally, if the Catechism adduces the example of a theft, it is no proof that the question is not of circumstances which change the species, and when it declares that one who has stolen one gold piece is less guilty than another who has stolen a hundred pieces this may easily be understood of a circumstance which (with regard to the absolute quantity) constitutes a venial guilt and so introduces a distinct theological species.

This view is held, among others, by Suarez, Sanchez, Gonet, Lacroix.

Other theologians teach that there is no necessity of confessing circumstantias notabiliter aggravantes, but they make an exception with regard to the circumstance of quantity in cases of theft. St. Alphonsus, along with other theologians, however, is of opinion that this exception ought not to be granted if the quantity is described as being large; for from that the confessor can per se make a sufficiently accurate judgment. Ballerini remarks very justly that the exception should be worded thus: Except when some additional reason exists, e.g. a reservation directed against a certain kind of incest or against the theft of some given amount.