Verbally abusive priest inside the Confessional
There were just a short line in the outside but I do notice that everyone who comes out of the confessional holds a little piece of paper, approximately a 3x5 printed material which understandably looks more like a simple guide to confession or some kind of a prayer formula.
When it was my turn, I started by telling the priest how long it was since my last confession – in English – but he suddenly stopped me and I did notice that he was very mad and was in fact raising his voice, which caught me in surprise wondering why. A little bit of panic sets my mood in as he was angrily directing me to get one of those little pieces of paper tucked in the wall of the confessional.
In local dialect Tagalog, he scolded me severely that I did not follow the rudiments of going to confession and he asked me to read that printed material. I politely told him I cannot read it since my reading vision is blurry. But I noticed this further enraged him and he yelled at me repeatedly, sarcastically telling me that a grade 4 kid is much better than me for knowing how to go to confession.
I was in total disbelief in what he was telling me, the way he was saying it and how I got myself entangled into this after travelling for hours to visit this landmark Basilica – just to go to Confession. Beyond my wildest expectation I could not think of any words to answer him back – his words are so sharp and humiliating and saying it over and over telling me with strong emphasis that I am much lower than a grade 4 kid.
I did not enter that cubicle for a confrontation but it came to a point, driven by his repeated insults and degradation that I wanted to tell him not to yell at me, but still I managed to restrain myself (while he was so unrestrained). I am fully aware that in a local culture, talking back to the higher authority is a sign of disrespect. So instead of talking back I just said “pasensya na po” meaning please I beg your pardon.
The priest went on and on, sarcastically yelling at me angrily that in my age I am a lot closer to my graveyard and still do not know the rudiment of confession, and again sarcastically trying to shame me by insisting that a grade 4 kid is much better than me. He was very angry, very rude, very insulting and kept going on in such a behavior uncontrollably non-stop.He hurriedly finalized the confession by saying “I forgive all your sins, recite the Creed” and this without hearing my confession he gave me an absolution.
Confession just ended.
I felt like being ripped apart into small pieces, so to speak. As I ended up seated in pew it was hard to trying to put one’s self together after coming out in what seemed to be a serious car wreck after a deadly collision inside a Confessional. I’d been through a lot of other serious personal disaster and as always I offer it up to the Lord. And this, one I offer it up as a penance in reparation for all my sins.
But after a sincere personal reflection, I concluded I still got an excellent bargain out of this Confession. Instead of telling my sins to this priest – and he preferred not to hear it – he gave me an absolution for sins that could have sent me over to hell seventy times seven times.
This all happened in the Basilica of Jesus the Nazarene, aka Quiapo Church, on a Saturday afternoon of May 7 in Manila while I was trying to catch up on the grace of the Divine Mercy Sunday, the Plenary Indulgence by going to confession.
Unfortunately this priest amplifies the weakness of a regional culture where prevalently a person on the top of a social ladder can ridicule the ignorance of those in the bottom and still be able to get away with it as being acceptable by the society. Or perhaps he grew up in an environment where hurling insults upon one another is a way of life, as I notice to some people around here.
I try to look at this incident in a way to uphold my trust in the priesthood and rather put the blame on the person of this priest. A person in the wrong vocation who ended up acting like a raging ferocious pit bull in administering his sacred duties –obnoxiously- inside the confessional. Just like one of the so many other priest in the past who ended up destroying the Church they intended to serve.
Despite all this, I cherish being able to go to Confession and received Holy Communion for the first time after a remission of some length of time.
Now I understand how my uncle died some 20+ years ago refusing to see priest because he says he trust Jesus our Lord but not the priests.
Ron, my question is – was this a valid confession? I tried to convince myself it was, so I went to receive Holy Communion and went home and woke up this morning still so refreshed from the grace of the sacrament so consoling and which I feel so strongly with a joy deep inside of me.