Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Confessional. Part 96.

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

Now with regard to confession and absolution of sins in the tribunal of penance Christ has handed over all power to the jurisdiction of the Church, and it is by Baptism that men come under this jurisdiction; this is the external rite by which men are admitted as members. But no one doubts that a man remains subject to the jurisdiction of a social body into which he has been admitted by the acknowledged external rites till that reception is proved to be invalid. All, therefore, who have in any way received Baptism (which they were desirous of receiving validly, though its validity admits of doubt) are as a general rule undeniably and certainly subject to the Church's jurisdiction and laws and are bound to comply with the divine precept which ordains that their sins should be told in confession and sentence passed upon them. In other words, the doubt with regard to Baptism has this effect, that the Baptism can be regarded as invalid in the sense that it can and ought to be repeated conditionally lest the man should risk his eternal salvation, but nowise in the sense that one who is doubtfully baptized may consider himself free from the observance of these precepts and obligations which are binding on the baptized by the ordinance of God or the Church; among these duties the precept of confessing sins holds the principal place.

As to the ceremonies to be observed in receiving a convert into the Church, there is nothing to prevent the confession being made first, followed by the conditional Baptism, then a summary repetition of the accusation along with an act of contrition and the conditional absolution. This order is allowed by the Holy Office in a Rescript of November, 1875. The American Ritual, on the other hand, gives the following order: 1. Renunciation of heresy and profession of faith; 2. Conditional Baptism; 3. Confession with conditional absolution. This order was prescribed by the instruction of the Holy Office for North America.