Pope Francis delivered a sermon emphasizing the importance of Confession, then, a week later, he acknowledged the RCC’s long history of child abuse by its priests on Catholic Radio, saying “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number…to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children”. The Catholic practice of confessing has a long and turbulent history, and has undergone many changes as it evolved into the ritual familiar to modern-day Catholics. This evolution and it’s modern consequences have recently been published in a book “The Dark Box; A Secret History of Confession” by John Cornwell; fully documenting that the child abuse scandal that has plagued the RCC for the past two decades is hopelessly intertwined with the confessional.
Confession originated in the early centuries of Catholicism as a way for sinners to be “reconciled” to their communities by way of a public confession followed by external “penance”. This penance included going barefoot, fasting, monetary fines, making pilgrimages, and abstaining from sex or rich food, among other punishments. After a pre-set time period, the “penitent” would be accepted back into the fold. It became customary for royals and high-ranking government officials to have personal Confessors, priests who became privy to their secrets and were responsible for the spiritual well-being of their sponsors. This allowed the RCC to become very influential on a high level with the majority of powerful European families in the centuries leading up to and into the Middle Ages.
It was common practice for these priests to exploit their influential positions, furthering RCC interests in government decisions and causing these rich penitents to build churches or make large monetary donations to Catholic institutions. As the threat of Heresy consumed the Catholic Church, annual Confession became obligatory. Refusal to submit to annual confession was grounds for excommunication, arrest and imprisonment, often becoming subject to the Inquisitors. Parishioners were encouraged to report those who avoided confession. Outspoken papal critics, such as the Cathars and Albisengiens in France, openly opposed confession to a priest, advocating the Catholic sacrament of Confession to be a false doctrine. Pope Innocent III initiated a military campaign against them, ultimately wiping them out. It is a common belief that the institution of the confession requirement was a subtle way to enforce regular submission to a priest for systematic questioning in seeking out heretics and heretical influences among local communities.
Inquisitors resorted to cruel torture in an effort to extract confessions. This process is detailed in the book “Malleus Malifecarum” (“Hammer of Witches”), a popular manual for Inquisitors. Resulting in the imprisonment, torture and death of tens of thousands of people, mostly women. The forced confessions were obtained under extreme duress and many victims fabricated “sins” to confess just to escape the pain. As the Inquisition swept through Europe, many people backed away from the Roman Church due to distrust of the motives of the clergy, giving rise to the Protestant Reformation. It was widely reported that confessor priests would blackmail women into performing sex acts. Sexual immorality became a defining theme of Confession, with masturbation deemed more sinful than rape.
Prior to the 20th century, it was common for young Catholics to submit to Confession for the first time at about the age of 14 or 15 years old. Around the turn of the century, when Pope Pious X came into power, attendance at Confession was at an all-time low. Pious felt that by waiting until after puberty to indoctrinate young Catholics into the church, they were losing them to “Modernism”, a term he used to describe the secular corruption of Catholics. In response, he ordered that Catholic education begin at the age of 5 or 6 years old with the first Confession and Communion occurring around 7 years of age.
This early education strongly featured memorization of prescribed prayers and descriptions of “sin”. Needless to say, this early exposure to subjects such as masturbation, sex, and “impure thoughts” contributed greatly to the guilt and sexual confusion felt by the pre-pubescent students. These children were inappropriately interrogated by priests, who they had been taught were “Vicars of Christ”, about their personal sexual activities without their parents being present. In his book, Mr. Cornwell describes the mental anguish felt by young boys who struggled with their emerging sexuality against the background of the moral teachings of the RCC. He also relates stories of bewildered young children being confessed while on the lap of the priest who is grilling them about their “impure thoughts”. By their method of teaching young children using guilt and fear, along with the requirement to confess their sins (even their sexual thoughts) to a sexually repressed priest, created the environment for the exploitation of the confessional to molest children.
Molestation of children in the confessional included mutual masturbation, rape, the display of pornographic images, and inappropriate questioning to feel out likely victims. Children of single mothers and widows were preyed upon under the auspices of being “taken under [the priest’s] wing”, these relationships being encouraged by the grateful mothers of those children. Often, the children were offered alcohol or drugs. Molestation commonly occurred during outings or overnight trips with priests. However, the confessional was the tool used by priests to scout for their victims. Complaints about offending priests went largely ignored as the RCC shuffled priests to other parishes to inevitably offend again. The most appalling aspect of this criminal molestation of children was that it was perpetrated by men who these children had been taught to believe were holy men, God’s representatives on earth. Some children were even told by their molesters that the attacks were the manifestation of God’s extraordinary love for them. While many incidents of child oppression, rape and molestation have been exposed, the vast majority have gone unreported. The RCC takes great pains to protect those accused priests even going so far as to absolve offenders who had “confessed” to fellow priests, concealing their crimes under the guise of the confessional “Seal of Secrecy”.
The most notorious priest to use the confessional for the molestation of children is Marciel Maciel Degollado, a Mexican-born priest and founder of the “Legion of Christ”. For decades, he molested young boys, urging them to masturbate him in his quarters or in the confessional, even giving them absolution afterwards for the sex acts they had performed at his behest. When a group of these boys, now adult men – including some who became priests themselves, complained in 1998 to the Vatican (via the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI) the investigation was shelved on the orders of Pope John Paul II. During the remainder of Pope John Paul II’s rule, he continued to publicly praise Maciel as an “efficacious guide to youth”. It was only after the death of John Paul II that Maciel was removed from the priesthood by Ratzinger, now the new Pope, in 2006, ten years after the allegations were brought to light. He died 2 years later, at the age of 87, having never had to answer for his crimes. Two of his own illegitimate children would even come forward, saying he had molested them as well.
Young women were not spared, especially in Ireland during the early to mid 1900’s. As these pubescent girls “confessed” their burgeoning sexuality to confessor priests, the parents of those girls considered too flirty, too pretty, or in danger of moral lapses were encouraged to send them to Magdalene Institutions where the girls would be imprisoned for years and forced to perform harsh manual labor, often being physically and sexually abused themselves while incarcerated there. The last of these institutions closed in 1996.
These men and the organization they represent are the Sons of Perdition spoken of in 2 Thessalonians by the Apostle Paul, the men of sin that are being revealed now, in the last days. Their teachings and practices are against God, yet they present themselves in an image of godliness. The RCC is fond of asserting that these crimes have been perpetrated by a small number of “evil” priests - that statement has proven false. Their skirt has been pulled up over their head, their crimes have been exposed. Their organization has purposely cultivated the perfect opportunity for child abuse inside the confessional booth and used it to control children through violence, fear and guilt. They cannot separate the modern ritual of confession from the exploitation of children by priests, the two have been interwoven together for a century. It will do no good to beg forgiveness for their crimes, God has passed judgment on them already, their fate has been sealed. Babylon has fallen, that Great Whore.