To: All Bishops
From: Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford Chairman, USCCB Committee on Divine Worship
Date: March 27, 2020
Re: Administration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing
As Bishops struggle to field the many questions that are arising from priests and the faithful about the availability and administration of the Sacraments, some issues have arisen that have come to the attention of the Committee on Divine Worship.
Two of those questions were referred to the Nuncio for possible referral to the Holy See. Our Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, spoke with Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and has requested that the following information be shared with all the Bishops:
With regard to Penance, it is clear that the Sacrament is not to be celebrated via cell phone. In addition, in the present circumstances cell phones should not be used even for the amplification of voices between a confessor and penitent who are in visual range of each other. Current threats against the seal of confession also raise questions about information on cell phones.
With regard to the Anointing of the Sick, it is not possible for the anointing with oil to be delegated to someone else, such as a nurse or a doctor.
I might add that when it is not possible to administer the Sacrament, then what the Apostolic Penitentiary said about the Sacrament of Penance might be applied analogously to the Sacrament of the Sick: “Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”
Dear Archbishop Blair, As a disabled Vet/priest and Canon Lawyer, I have given absolution many times when our ship was threatened or a Marine Corps unit was under hostile fire. Now, the Church states that this general absolution is effective and valid. Yet, at the same time, priests and bishops are mandated to advise those who have validly been forgiven in general absolution that they must return and confess the very sins which were forgiven in general absolution. This stance indicates that those theologians who mandate that those absolved in general absolution really doubt the validity of that absolution. Very frankly, the attitude of confessing the sins that were previously absolved stinks in reality and indicates to me that those who created the rules of confessing privately after having their sins absolved in a general absolution are nothing but sleazy voyeurs who simply want to impose another humiliating pain upon the penitent which does such violence to the penitent. The sin is forgiven in general absolution or it is not forgiven. You bishops need to stop endorsing the voyeur attitude which has wounded the Church so much. Very frankly, the attitude of forcing a reconfession of sins indicates that those who thought up the idea of reconfessing after having those sins forgiven is a sick action of sick priests mandated by psychologically deranged bishops. As Pope Paul VI has said, “The smoke of Satan is in the Church.”Fr. Robert Kincl, M.A., S.T.L., J.C.L.Fr. Robert Kincl, M.A., J.C.L, S.T.L.
This statement is a pastoral travesty in regard to Perfect Contrition, which is a grace gratuitously given the common Christian not a work of justice which each Catholic can will ad libidum. It shows a complete pastoral disregard for the power to forgive sins which Christ gave the clergy for the salvation of the common man, who more often than not needs to lead to imperfect contrition, wherein alone he finds forgiveness in the Sacrament NOT in the desire of the Sacrament nor in an act of perfect contrition, said, in the form of a prayer. It really amazes me that the Vatican can be so ignorant of the theology of penance and so utterly careless for the salvation of 1 billion catholics.