Over the centuries, sacramental confession has undergone radical changes that are great “theological doctors” of Facebook and Twitter ignore

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Thanks to Social media a lot of, grouped together in dense legions of increasingly fierce fools, as well as worse than the biblical invasion of locusts, they usually self-form in this way: first pick from a blog to the other, then they engage in the use of words of which they do not even know the etymological meaning - but above all the meaning they have in the philosophical language, metaphysical and theological-dogmatic -, finally they get on the chair of Facebook o di Twitter to give lessons of correct doctrine to us theologians, firing one nonsense after another in bursts, often even violently and aggressively.



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By asking a question a Reader I was inspired by this article that could be useful to many people:


«It is true that Christ condemns sin and not the sinner. It is true that the sinner is to be forgiven seventy times seven, therefore always. But on the hundredth time that a person comes to her to confess the same sin, she never thinks that maybe she is "sucking" us a little? The first Christian communities, if I remember correctly, didn't go so lightly in the judgment on the sinner e, after sin, contrition of heart was not enough and before being readmitted into the community he had to pass under the public caudine gallows. Probably my feelings of guilt arise from here ... masochism? But it seems to me that even in the apostolic canons they speak of this path ".


Capuchin friar confessor (photo by Aldo Lancioni)


These are questions that offer opportunity to do some sacramental dogmatics, subject to which I have devoted myself a lot together with the history of dogma.

In the sad and confused times we are living in, we priests and theologians have to deal with the reality of "Catholics" who range between magical-aesthetic and the most vulgar fideism. Thanks to Social media a lot of, grouped together in dense legions of increasingly fierce fools, as well as worse than the biblical invasion of locusts, they usually self-form in this way: first pick from a blog to the other, then they engage in the use of words of which they do not even know the etymological meaning - but above all the meaning they have in the philosophical language, metaphysical and theological-dogmatic -, finally they get on the chair of Facebook o di Twitter to give lessons of correct doctrine to us theologians, shooting nonsense in bursts, often even violently and aggressively. And not always, Unfortunately, you can laugh at the nonsense of these internetici theologians. Sometimes yes, others do not.

Here is a typical example of sinister and vulgar fideism based on the magical-aesthetic, of the series ... abracadabra the magic is done! Someone wrote on my page social that "the prayers recited in Latin are very powerful and the devil just can't stand them", because he is terrified of it.

For pedagogy, above all out of authentic Christian charity, such people cannot be taken seriously, they are just for fun. What else could be done with subjects who from their professorships erected on social media they think they can speak of the mystery of divine grace, of the sacramental - which is the most complex branch of dogmatic theology - and of the discipline of the sacraments, with the slight nonchalance with which one can discuss the latest article published in a magazine Of gossip?

Here then is the tease addressed to these people becomes an appropriate and pedagogical act of the most authentic Christian charity. Indeed, what is not serious and what appears so grotesque and anti-scientific, anti-doctrinal and anti-theological, it must be deprived of value. To do this, the most effective weapon is irony and wise and charitable mockery.

And so, to that Lady which almost certainly would not be able to translate even the first very simple lines of the De bello Gallico but who invokes the "magic language" of Latin to terrorize the devil, I replied that when we celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice in Italian, or when instead of saying the Lord be with you we say The Lord be with you, surely the devil cracks up with laughter, not feeling struck by the magical Latin that instead knocks him down instantly frightened and stunned.

This complex premise to say that when I've been asked intelligent questions like the one sent by this Reader of ours, it is as if I received a free gift:

"On the hundredth time that a person comes to her to confess the same sin, she never thinks that maybe she is" sucking "us a little?».

Relevant question, because precisely in these cases one can see how much a wise confessor is and enlightened by God's grace. First of all it must be taken into account that Christ, divine cornerstone, he chose Peter for the building and government of his Church (cf.. Mt 13, 16-20). And of all the Apostles, Peter was the most fragile and haughty, as he repeatedly demonstrated, at the same time he also showed himself the most cowardly. If necessary, he was confused, indecisive and ambiguous in matters of doctrine. He was a naive Galilean fisherman, passionate and good that he remained so throughout his life. He did not shine for intelligence, least of all for culture. Suffice it to recall how it was made black in Antioch by the Blessed Apostle Paul, albeit with all due respect for his primacy as Head of the College of Apostles. Now let's retrace that very interesting story of Antioch narrated by the Apostle Paul himself:

«But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him openly because he was wrong. Indeed, before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles:; ma, after their coming, he withdrew and separated himself, for fear of the circumcision. And the other Jews did the same in the simulation, so much so that even Barnabas allowed himself to be drawn into their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not behaving righteously according to the truth of the gospel, said to Peter before all: "Be yourself, being a Jew, live like a Gentile and not in the manner of the Jews, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”. We, that by birth we are Jews and not pagan sinners, knowing however that man is not justified by the works of the Law but only by faith in Jesus Christ, we too believed in Christ Jesus to be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the Law no one will ever be justified. If therefore we who seek justification in Christ are found sinners like others, Christ is perhaps a minister of sin? Impossible! In fact, if I go back to building what I destroyed, I denounce myself as a transgressor. Actually by the Law I died to the Law, so that I live for God. I was crucified with Christ, and I don't live anymore, but Christ lives in me. And this life, that I live in the body, I live it in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. Therefore I am not making the grace of God in vain; indeed, if the justification comes from the Law, Christ died in vain "" (Gal 2, 11-21).

In this debate that took place in Antioch, the Blessed Apostle Paul enunciates the theology and doctrine of grace and justification. Exactly what a German Augustinian friar famously donkey misunderstood, I think he was called Martin Luther, forge of enormous damage produced in the Church around the sixteenth century, with all due respect to a certain Catholic flattery which today indicates him as a "reformer" and who calls his schismatic heresy "reform". Among other things, it came from a historic Order that takes its name from St. Augustine who was the author of Of nature and grace.

Always remaining in the order of hyperbolic examples: if a conclave had been held after the death of Jesus Christ, how many Peter would have voted and how many Paul? What a profound difference there was between Peter, Giacomo the Greater and his brother Giovanni, indicated by Christ God with the Aramaic name of "sons of thunder" - boanèrghes ―, then reported in Greek characters as βοανηργες (cf.. MC 3, 16-18). If we compare Peter with figures of apostles such as John or Paul, the difference will appear roughly like the one that could exist between Roberto Benigni and Marcello Mastroianni, tra Jerry Lewis e Gregory Peck. Yet Christ chose him who embodied all our human frailties, giving it the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind and untie (cf.. Mt 16, 13-19), all despite having had much better elements from which to choose the Head of the College of Apostles. So let's try to ask ourselves: because he chose Peter and not others?

It is not an Angel of God who absolves sins, just as it is not a group of Cherubim and Seraphim who lead the Church of Christ, but of priests, Of another Christ acting in Person Christi and that they can often be worse sinners than the one to whom they grant grace and divine forgiveness through sacramental absolution: "Whom you forgive sins will be forgiven ..." (GV 20, 22-23).

Theology, sacramental dogmatics in particular, it cannot be separated from the history of dogma, because in the course of two thousand years the discipline of the sacraments has undergone sometimes radical changes, fruit of a long gestation understood as the acquisition of the perception of the Sacrament and of the Sacraments in themselves. Or perhaps someone thinks that the first Christians had the perception of the Holy Eucharist that we have today? Or that they display the Blessed Sacrament inside the monstrance for Eucharistic adoration, practice of sacred devotion to the Most Holy Body of Christ which will come to life only about 1300 years after the death and resurrection of the Word of God? What prayer books did the first Christians use in the apostolic age and with which Missal they celebrated Holy Mass, perhaps with what certain ridiculous contemporaries call … the missal of Mass of All Time? The early Christians perhaps recited prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary? The Twelve Apostles gathered together sang Hi Regina in Gregorian in the presence of the Mater Dei to honor her while she was staying in Ephesus or Jerusalem? They venerated the relics of the Saints? They went on pilgrimage to the sanctuaries where indulgence could be gained, or perhaps they crowded the hill of Medjugorje where in complete travel package conversion is also guaranteed, besides - of course - the assured apparition of the Madonna? Or, after the February Edict of Milan 313, the Christians screamed, style invaded neocatechumenal: … «We have been recognized and approved… approved! You cannot therefore tell us and do nothing about it: we have been approved! Whoever is against us is against the august emperors Constantine and Licinius who approved us … approved!»? And always after this edict, the Christians were perhaps given the ancient basilicas of the romanitas with a place of honor in the ancient Senate reserved for the Bishop of Rome? I honestly would like to know what science fiction movies some people have seen, it would be interesting to know at least the title.

Simply said,: a sinner could commit that particular sin even once every 48 hours, then going to ask for God's grace and forgiveness. Obviously as long as he is repentant and a “victim” of fragility and weaknesses that he cannot manage and overcome at the moment. It is quite another matter if the sinner continuously commits the same sin because of indolence, laziness or selfishness wants to be weak and fragile and does not intend in any way to react to those weaknesses and frailties to which it could instead react, or worse because convinced ".... Oh well, then I'll go to confession ". In that case, for the good of the penitent, absolution can even be denied. However, I can guarantee that it is difficult for people of this kind - I would say almost impossible - to go back and forth to the confessional to ask forgiveness for the same sin..

The reader keep asking:

«The first Christian communities, if I remember correctly, didn't go so lightly in the judgment on the sinner e, after sin, contrition of heart was not enough and before being readmitted into the community he had to pass under the public caudine forks ".

It's true, but we are at the very beginning of the Christian experience, in an era in which many were not yet clear what truly great had happened for all humanity from Calvary to the empty tomb of Christ risen and then ascended to heaven. The currents of the first Christians were different, two are the main ones: the Judeo-Jesuits, that is, the Jews who had chosen to follow the message of Christ and who were very affected by Jewish culture and rabbinic law, in particular of the Pharisaic one, from which lineage came the same Apostle Paul (cf.. At 23, 6) and the converted pagans belonging to the Greek and Latin populations.

As evidenced by the "incident" of Antioch between the Apostles Peter and Paul, the exchanges between the circumcised and the uncircumcised were very intense. And with all the confusion that often followed it was debated whether Christians should continue with the ritual practice of circumcision. Many understood the Eucharist as a celebration of Passover (Passover) which instead of once a year was celebrated once a week. It would then suffice to recall that from then on it will take almost four centuries and two great dogmatic councils to first define at Nicaea in 325, then in Constantinople in 381, the mystery of the person and nature of Christ. And since there were not even lexical terms to define it, the Fathers of the Church were forced to borrow terminologies from the Greek philosophical lexicon and modulate them to give a definition to this ineffable mystery.

At first I called back to the “doctors of sacramental theology” specialized at the academy of Facebook and of Twitter, those to be made fun of by imperative of conscience and above all for Christian charity, ready to launch into topics for which often, if not almost usual, sixty-year-old priests with thirty years of priestly ministry behind them ask for explanations from some theologian brother or dogma historian, if anything, twenty years younger than them, before going into some very complex disquisitions on the theological level, which consequently involve equally complex issues on a historical level. Indeed, it is impossible to understand the discipline of the Sacraments if one does not know the history well and in depth.

It's true, the first Christian communities they had another conception of the forgiveness of sins, suffice it to say that the Sacrament of Penance could only be received once in a lifetime, after a penitential journey made under the guidance of the Bishop. Once the faithful received this sacrament, they could no longer sin, except at your own risk, because he could never receive it again. For seven centuries, absolution from sins was considered a "non-repeatable" sacrament. For this reason, Christians tried to receive absolution before dying, or in any case in old age. And many died without receiving it.

In these first centuries the complex problem of child. Latin term that literally means "slipped", used to indicate the Christians who during the persecutions of the third and fourth centuries burned incense to the pagan gods doing an act of adoration towards them. This is not out of conviction but because they are threatened with death, therefore only for fear of dying. Even before the case of child the discipline of the unrepeatability of penance was held firm. On the readmission of the child to the Community of believers the early Church found itself divided between the Cornelius current, elected Bishop of Rome in 251, inclined to forgive and accept them, and the followers of the Novatian presbyter who denied them any form of acceptance and who ended up excommunicated by the Roman synod. From him came the current known today as the Novatian heresy, who for some centuries continued to find followers. The theological battle waged against the Novatians by Ambrose, bishop of Mediolanum, is memorable, who at the end of the fourth century composed the Of Penance, work divided into two books in which it is refuted: in the first, the theses of the followers of Novatian who considered mortal sins not forgivable and the need to proceed with a new baptism for the followers of their heretical sect; in the second he offers a learned dissertation on the concept of penance and the way in which it must be administered. Bishop Ambrose refutes the Novatians by reminding them that God's mercy offers all repentant sinners his grace. It reaffirms the analogical foundation between baptism and penance and finally reaffirms the unrepeatability of both these sacraments that generate a substantial transformation of life in anyone who repents for the sins committed and the evil that with them has been caused to others. The Novatians claimed to invite on the one hand to penance and repentance, on the other, however, they denied forgiveness, convinced of praising the Almighty with their rigor, but in fact despising God's grace and forgiveness through their blind hardness of heart. Let me now evaluate, to anyone who has read only a few rants of certain self-styled Internet theologians do it yourself, if the Novatian one is not by chance one of the various returning heresies of our present time.

With the descent of the barbarians from Northern Europe - who shortly afterwards converted en masse to Christianity fascinated by the great and virile figures of certain Bishops and Fathers of the Church -, the hypothesis of making this sacrament repeatable to make the path of conversion and Christian life less impossible for these peoples began to be aired.. Hypothesis in front of which many Fathers of the Church and theologians of the time shouted heresy! Presumably, one of these, it would have been Ambrose himself, just mentioned, who three centuries earlier reaffirmed the unrepeatability of penance in one of his famous theological works.

Because with the converted barbarians the pastoral need arises to make the Sacrament repeatable? Because beyond their good will, their habits and customs of life were what they were… well, we must be grateful to the barbarians if this sacrament became repeatable. Only in the seventh century was the private practice of Penance introduced, something we owe to the Irish monks who lived at the time of San Colombano who founded the monastery of Bobbio in the early seventh century and who helped to revive the practice of this Sacrament through a private dimension based on the expiation of sins. Like this, these monks, coming down from the regions of northern Europe to Italy they brought the sacramental habit of "confessing" their sins to a presbyter in such a way as to receive a penance, this paid penance. And here we must explain that for paid penance we mean the classification of the sins to which the penances to be imposed corresponded. This system introduced in the seventh century began to be practiced first in the monastic sphere, then among the people with subsequent great diffusion. We therefore owe the repeatability of this sacrament to the Irish Saint Columban and his monks, instead of being able to receive it once in a lifetime. We also owe him the secrecy of the penitential path instead of the public dimension.

In the two hundred years that followed between the eighth and ninth centuries, i Penitential Books they had a great diffusion and application. the rates enclosed within them consisted mainly of imposed fasts, which according to the gravity of the sin committed could sometimes last days, other times years. Disgrace wanted - because in fact it was -, that the Penitential Books contained within them commutations that allowed the sinner to commute his fast into expiatory works done by himself or even performed by third parties, all in exchange for money, celebrations of Holy Masses, land donations, construction of churches and monasteries in cases of particularly wealthy sinners. Then came the verge of ridicule, this just to remember with an aside that at a certain point in history, in that of Certaldo, Giovanni Boccaccio was born anything but by chance in the fourteenth century and that some of his short stories are anything but fanciful inventions. So I leave the reader to guess, without going into useless and shameful details, which abuses originated certain commutations and how many "holy" monks obtained the construction of great monasteries by selling the atonement for sins in concrete facts, while certain sovereigns and powerful feudal lords subjected to harsh penance came to pay their own faithful servant to do penance in their place (!?). There will also be a reason, if several councils of the Church severely condemned the vile sin of simony, whose etymology stems from the story of Simon Magus who tried to offer money to the Apostles to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of their hands (cf.. At 8, 18-19).

Subsequently, the Sacrament of Penance will experience new developments and innovations between the ninth and tenth centuries with the Carolingian theologians beginning to focus attention from the atonement of sins to the accusation of sins, considering it the true heart of the entire penitential process. Without sincere repentance, there can be no forgiveness and atoning penance can risk being an end in itself.. Until reaching the Council of Trent which in 1563 establishes the norms of Confession with a specific decree, structuring the sacramental and canonical discipline of this sacrament as we know it today. In the post-Tridentine era, suitable spaces and places were also created for administering this Sacrament, for example, the penitentiaries inside the great cathedrals and basilicas, hence the use of confessionals created between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century to ensure confidentiality and separation between the confessor and the penitent and to encourage the confession itself. Nobody would be comfortable, to men and perhaps even more to women, accuse your sins to a man who sits in front of you and looks you in the face as you speak. It is worth mentioning that confessionals were invented by the Jesuits, precisely the same ones who between the end of the sixties and the seventies of the twentieth century were the first to remove them from many of their churches to put them in the basements, or by selling them to antique dealers, if anything, to give money to the poor, mind you! Indeed, the casuistic reason of the Jesuit, or it is always noble in and of itself, or in any case it becomes so through manipulation.

It is not true that the sinner "Before being readmitted to the community he had to pass under the public caudine forks". But some historians write it, many read it around and take such claims to be true and then spread them as such. It was not the confession of sins that was public, but the state of penitents, that yes it was made public. The penitents, almost always gathered in groups, they had to make a specific penitential path under the guidance of the Bishop, they certainly could not be kept hidden, but their sins yes, so much so that the Holy Pontiff Leo the Great, the long pontificate of which lasted from 440 al 461, he prohibited public confession and declared it illegitimate and contrary to apostolic norms:

“We forbid that on this occasion a writing should be publicly read in which their sins are listed in detail. In fact, it is sufficient that the faults be manifested only to the Bishop, in a private interview " (Letter 168).

From all these historical notes it should be understood that the Sacrament of Penance, like other Sacraments, has undergone major mutations over time, at times truly radical. Always with all due respect to whoever speaks of Mass of All Time or doctrines, rules and disciplines always and absolutely immutable, with a lot of indisputable seal «it has always been done like this over the centuries!». Typical expression of the imbecile who usually ignores all of the mutations and events that have occurred over the centuries, because a past has been created that never existed, in order to make the present unreal.

I conclude with a touch of irony narrating when a mega-catechist de The Neocatechumenal sect he rattled kikian-carmeniano on the necessity of returning to the Church of the first apostolic origins. And here it is necessary to specify that the mega-catechist made the so-called scrutinies - that is to say that she investigated the consciences - not only of the laity, but even of the priests e, when their assemblies were held in the closed rooms, she talked and rambled heresies outright, while the priest present sat silently next to her, silent, ashamed of himself and of priestly dignity. At that point I quoted some passages from Sacred Scripture in which the Blessed Apostle Paul does not limit himself to exhorting, but he addresses real severe intimations:

"I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man; rather it be in silence " (The Tm 2, 12) "As in all churches of the saints, the women keep silent in the assemblies because it is not allowed to speak; but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If they want to learn something, question their husbands at home, it is improper for a woman to speak in church " (The Cor 14, 34-35).

(D)before those clear passages, I told her that her job was to just keep quiet. And having said this, I asked her if she intended to return to the Church of the origins and apply certain commands and precepts to the letter, thus showing that he is truly yearning for the hoped-for return to origins. Not knowing what to answer, the poor ignoramus, paradigm of what mega-catechists actually are neokatekiki, he literally snapped stating: "Well, you always know, that Saint Paul was a misogynist ". Well, even if this is not the place, I think it is appropriate to briefly clarify that the Blessed Apostle, far from being a misogynist, he addressed these words to the inhabitants of Corinth, a basically matriarchal society in which women used to condition men with strong influences and pressures. But when they tried to do the same in the Christian community, trying to put their feet on the heads of bishops and presbyters, the Apostle called them to order. Therefore, the admonition "If they want to learn something, ask their husbands at home ", most likely it was aimed precisely at the wives of the first bishops and presbyters of that geographical area, it is clear from this other passage of the Epistle addressed to the disciple Timothy:

«[…] the bishop must be blameless, the husband of one time, sober, prudent, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not attached to money. Know how to manage his family well and have submissive children with every dignity, because if one does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the Church of God?» (The Tm 3, 2-5).

The problem is that on the one hand we have more or less sectarian pseudo-Catholics which invoke the return to unknown origins and which instead constitute only a starting evolutionary nucleus to which it is certainly not desirable to return, because it would be like getting out of the car and going back to the time before the invention of the wheel. On the other hand, we have pseudo-Catholics of unspecified tradition who have built a past that never existed, convinced that the Blessed Apostle Peter celebrated the Mass of All Time dressed in solemn vestments with assistant presbyters dressed in copes and deacons dressed in damask baroque dalmatics. Of course celebrating - it goes without saying, needless to say! - in perfect and magical Latin, the one that scares and drives the Devil away, as that certain scientist wrote on my page Social. And certainly Simon, son of Jonah, known as Peter, was also called him “Holiness” O “Most Holy Father”. In fact, when the Roman soldiers arrested him on the Via Appia to take him to the Vatican Hill where he was crucified, they ordered him: "Up there, Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, Your Holiness is under arrest!». And he was dragged towards the torture, giving at the end of his life the proof of the heroic nature of his virtues and dying by the grace of God the martyr.

It took Peter a lifetime to die a martyr, after running away several times, the last in series order shortly before his death, during Nero's persecutions, under the reign of which he ended up captured together with other fleeing Christians and ending up on the cross in what in the early Roman era was a wet and unhealthy marshy place outside the metropolitan urban core: the Vatican Hill. Name that some derive from Vagitano, a pagan divinity who protected newborn babies as they uttered their first cry. Others derive it from forecaster, which in Latin means "to predict", therefore linking it to the fact that in that area they practiced their profession of diviners already in the ancient Etruscan era. Whatever the true meaning of the word, it remains certain that the Vatican is a place where for love and respect for the faith ends up being put on the cross, in antiquity as in the contemporary world.

the Island of Patmos, 4 February 2023


The topic covered in this article is found in depth in my book Sadness of Love – Click on the image to open the page



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