Last summer I was traveling and I stopped for mass in another state. Throughout mass I was rather uncomfortable due the celebrant's demeanor/conduct, but I brushed it off as "just a bad case of progressivism." After mass I asked him to hear my confession, so we went to the confessional and began the standard process.

Without disclosing the exact sins that were confessed, I will clarify a few things:

  1. Every sin I confessed has been officially recognized as sin by the Catholic church since her beginning (and before that, by Judaism).
  2. Some sins caused direct injury (without being specific, either spiritual, emotional, or physical) to another person.
  3. I have confirmed with numerous other clergy that the things confessed were indeed sinful.

Throughout my confession, the priest interrupted me many times to say, "so what?" or, "that's not a sin." I expressed the desire to help those affected by my sins come to healing, and the advice was, "Tell them to get over it!" I spent more time arguing that my sins are indeed sins than I did giving my confession. In complete honesty, it felt like I was speaking to an atheist clown at a circus and he was mocking me for my moral consciousness.

I know with certainty the priest was wrong in this scenario, and I am afraid that he will lead others astray from salvation and into sin. However, I do not know how to make sure the matter is addressed appropriately and sufficiently resolved. I believe the best course of action is to report this to the diocese, but at the same time I am afraid that my experience was just a symptom of the diocese's own potential corruption (specifically, the administration). Also, I do not know how to submit such a report.

How should I go about resolving this?

  • Good question; but why did you decide to go to Confession to a strange priest whose orthodoxy you already doubted?
    – DDS
    Commented Apr 13 at 1:35
  • 2
    @DDS out of necessity. I needed the sacrament, and I knew that, as an ordained priest, he had the authority of Peter to loose my sins. Even if he was not necessarily qualified for that responsibility, he still had the authority. Commented Apr 13 at 14:26
  • Yes; that's true. A priest in mortal sin can still absolve.
    – DDS
    Commented Apr 13 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


Denounce the priest to his superior, the local bishop. Contact your diocese's office about how to do this; Catholic-Hierarchy provides dioceses' contact info.

Discussing one type of abuse of the sacrament of penance (solicitation, "The crime of using the sacrament of penance, directly or indirectly, to lead a person into a grave sin against chastity."), the 1917 Code of Canon Law required, under pain of excommunication, that the

Canon 904 […] penitent must within one month denounce (denuntiare) to the local Ordinary or to the Sacred Congregation of the H. Office a priest [accused] of the delict of solicitation in confession; the confessor must, under grave obligation of his conscience, advise the penitent of this duty.


Canon 2368 […] § 2. […] the faithful who knowingly omit to denounce (denuntiare) him by whom they were solicited within one month against the prescription of Canon 904 incur automatic excommunication reserved to no one, and shall not be absolved until after satisfying the obligation or seriously promising to satisfy it.

  • 1
    Solicitation is still an excommunication under the 1983 Code, but the penalty for not denouncing is not. While the historical law may be useful to emphasize seriousness, we should not give an impression that may encourage scruples or other anxieties.
    – eques
    Commented Apr 12 at 23:27
  • @eques But denunciation isn't penalized (unless the denunciation is false).
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 13 at 4:02
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    @CardinalSystem Yes but my point is that it is NOT current law. The 1917 code ceases to be normative law in 1983. It is thus useful only for historical information about how severe the Church considered that issue. It is less relevant to the current situation.
    – eques
    Commented Apr 13 at 14:38
  • 4
    I do think it's disingenuous (and not even "slightly disingenuous") to present the 1917 CIC as gospel without any reference to the 1983 Code, which abrogated it. Commented Apr 13 at 16:44
  • 3
    @CardinalSystem You should contact the diocese where the priest was ministering. The bishop there is probably his ordinary. In some cases, a priest might have a different ordinary, but the diocese would know that and either point you in the right direction or send the complaint on. Commented Apr 13 at 16:47

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