The Third Rite
When The Times recently carried a cover-story article entitled “A Loss of the Sense of Sin” complete with centre-page colour portrait of the Pope, it was only to be expected that it would contain what would be of interest. The expression, loss of the sense of sin, we soon discovered, was not drawing attention to our generation’s widespread disregard of the moral law of God but was Rome’s lament over the general neglect of the confessional, or the “Sacrament of Penance”, as it is officially called.
Here, in this article, was to be found further evidence of the laity’s increasing distrust of the clergy and their flouting of priestly authority, which cannot now be covered up. “Not many people”, we are told, “go to confession any more; there is a huge gap between the Vatican and the [Roman] Catholic laity.” The paedophile scandals have largely contributed to this decline and the manner in which the Roman Catholic Church has been, and is, dealing with the crisis has, in the judgment of many within its pale, called its credibility into question. The trouble is that Rome cannot prevent people beginning to think for themselves. A Roman Catholic journalist is quoted as saying that “the Vatican has a dilemma – you cannot educate people to think for themselves and then object when they do”. It would appear that in this “enlightened” age, Rome is losing the power to convince its laity that what the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches is still authoritative – that, “in the administration of this, as in that of the other sacraments, the priest represents the character and discharges the functions of Jesus Christ”.
In any case, it would seem that there are not enough priests around to hear penitents’ confessions on a face-to-face basis or, it is said, the time to spare. It was to overcome this difficulty that what is known as the Third Rite or “general absolution” was introduced. It allows the priest supposedly to forgive the “entire congregation without individuals having to recite their misdeeds out loud”. If this becomes the norm, then, obviously, the Vatican’s intelligence network – the most efficient ever devised – will be severely disadvantaged and an attempt is, accordingly, now being made – directly by the Pope or, more likely, by his minions – to reverse the trend. If only poor, deluded Roman Catholics would realise, once and for all, that there is only one Priest who has power on earth to forgive sins! Their Church’s confessional blasphemously introduces a third person between men and the living and true God, to whom we are to confess our sins directly. It could not be set before us more plainly: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”