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Daniel Arendt

Confessional Ethics.

  • The Roman Catholic Confessional, always for what that religion deems a sacrament, has always prima facie been a way for penitents to privately meet with clergy and be informed Jesus forgives all their sins...essentially what, say, ULC Monastery conveys through its online chapel absolution; Benedict XVI opined that online confession is useless for salvation as only a Priest of properly discerned calling can inform someone Jesus forgives the sins of  humanity...confession further only salvic to confirmed Roman Catholics.That is the Pope's opinion, amid many other ones in his own sect.

    From Scriptures, Jesus didn't lay down ANY formats except for the Lord's Prayer and a remembrance of the Last Supper; He also said His salvic mission applied to ALL nations and people, with ALL simply doing God's will (Scripturally, acting ethically in all things) already being His brothers and mothers (sisters). For Jesus, it appears one is forgiven if they turn to God's way, period...but emphasis appears upon the spiritual plane only, leaving the door open to some prudent nature(s) of earthly justice. In such regard, the Vatican Confessional arose as a man-made response to the command of Christ, making best use of all dynamics the Church then had available to ensure ethical and orderly conduct.

    To start, "day one" of the Confessional, Roman Catholic clergy had actual power to try ecclesiatical and secular matters. Augustine of Hippo, one of 33 Doctors of the Church, was renowned for his fairness in trying cases and was sought as a Judge by many people regardless of origin or creed. Also, the Vatican and its clergy until the Reformation enjoyed co-opted sovereign power mostly with European nations...indeed, few arose to thrones without Vatican coronation.

    In this regard, the Church recognized it had a responsibility to save souls yet not subvert the goals of secular justice and order...enter the Confessional, and concept of penance. Here, the Crown accepted whatever the Church came up with as penance even for worst offenders, but not on expectation ten "Hail Marys" got one off scot-free every time a felony happened. Yes, prayers for spiritual penance, but anything from a stiff money or labor expense to the Church or community, up to joining a religious order for life (assumedly part of "true discerned calling", once), to satisfy God's (and the Crown's) preference for rational justice and order. If the Church secular penance was too much, despite spiritual forgiveness one then was open to routine Crown corrections...Confession stayed secret only if Church total penance was accepted.

    Today, the Church has no co-opted say-so power of royalty or as a Supreme Court; thus the Confessional can only offer "ten Hail Marys" and such for anything at all done. With most States now requiring that all clergy of every type report suspected violent actors revealing themselves to clergy from the public, even Roman Catholic clergy and deacons across the nation are on record as giving full compliance on top of prayer penance.

    The Confessional appearing to have originated as a human creation to enhance secular order; pan-faith and pan-religious traditional clergy now informing States of suspected violent types; States having laws compelling clergy to make certain disclosures; and ULC Monastery requiring its ministers to comply with all laws, where law requires, I see nothing against the ethics of Christianity or any other spirituality, nor against he interests of humanity, in aiding the State where a minister finds State "penance" prudent but can no longer administer it as religious; this could only touch upon unethical conduct where a sovereignty then would proveably be requiring divulgence to deprive people of God's intent of responsible freedom(s), to enslave persons or minds, to mete punishment grossly exceeding transgression, or to gather blackmail in lieu of justice.

    As to ethics of ULC Monastery absolution, for Christians, Jesus made clear none of His disciples could call themselves the greatest in spreading His words. The sum of most faiths is that etrenal progress is had through not acting egregiously or illogically with others. Despite Vatican modern speech that only well-discerned Priests can deliver salvation, their Catechism adopted 1994 by John Paul II plainly states even non-Catholics are saved on their own if moved by grace. ULC Monastery offers public announcement that sins are forgiven on admonition to do ethical right. As I am confounded to see how the messenger in this case somehow "perfects" the same message, I see nothing unethical about ULC Monastery so informing the public they can have spiritual absolution.

    [Christian Scriptural Resources: 1. Who actually forgives all transgressions, and on what very simple ethical terms, see Psalms 32 and 50; 2. that ethics are for officials also, Psalm 101; that one need not be an official or poor to have merit to God (ethics not simple class struggle), see Proverbs 30:7-9; that simply doing God's will is all He asks and Jesus requires, see Luke 8:21. This is not an exhaustive list. All citations from "Holy Bible: Today's English Version", American Bible Society, 1976. If the followers of Jesus say He came to confirm cited Old and New Testament passages, and I am one who does, then obviously one cannot expand beyond ethics matter to be "bound or loosed". Could be why even Augustine of Hippo warned to not be too rash in calling something sin. This is my own religious perspective, not meant to provoke or alienate anyone.]

    "It entered, as no other book has, into the making of the personal character...we owe to it an incalculable debt".- On the King James Bible, comment by Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1952. Maybe until recent times and still, there is evidence within the Bible that it promotes more than cherry-picked evangelical issues du jour, and that such evangelical religious protections can't be a shield against those speaking in defense of ethics or logic.

1 comment
  • Universal Life Church
    Universal Life Church Thanks for this commentary. It is our belief of many at ULCM that each person finds absolution through his or her own conscience, for each of us has access to divine guidance as long as we seek it.
    February 10, 2010