Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap.: Repentance for Sin and Sacramental Absolution

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*Image: The Repentant St. Peter by El Greco, c. 1600–05 [The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.]

By Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap., The Catholic Thing, Jan. 25, 2023

Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, a prolific writer and one of the most prominent living theologians, is a former member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. His newest book is the third volume of Jesus Becoming Jesus: A Theological Interpretation of the Gospel of John: The Book of Glory and the Passion and Resurrection Narratives.

It’s been widely reported that Pope Francis told seminarians from Barcelona, Spain, in an unscripted talk, that they must not “be clerical, to forgive everything.”  Such must be the case even “if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all.”  In denying “absolution” to someone who is unrepentant, “we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment.”  Priests who withhold absolution to the unrepentant are “delinquents.”

At one point, Francis referred to such priests, whom he finds detestable, in a crude and obscene manner. (For an example of the reporting, click here.)

The scenario, as portrayed by Francis, of an unrepentant sinner going to Confession is extremely rare.  It does, nonetheless, pose an important doctrinal issue. …

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