Should Auricular Confession be Tolerated Among
LET my readers who understand Latin, peruse the extracts I give from
Bishop Kenrick, Debreyne, Burchard, Dens, or Liguori, and the most
incredulous will learn for themselves that the world, even in the
darkest ages of old paganism, has never seen anything more infamous and
degrading as auricular confession.
To say that auricular confession purifies the soul, is not less
ridiculous and silly than to say that the white robe of the virgin, or
the lily of the valley, will become whiter by being dipped into a bottle
of black ink.
Has not the Pope's celibate, by studying his books before he goes to
the confessional-box, corrupted his own heart, and plunged his mind,
memory, and soul into an atmosphere of impurity which would have been
intolerable even to the people of Sodom?
We ask it not only in the name of religion, but of common sense. How
can that man, whose heart and memory are just made the reservoir of all
the grossest impurities the world has ever known, help others to be
chaste and pure?
The idolaters of India believe that they will be purified from their
sins by drinking the water with which they have just washed the feet of
What monstrous doctrine! The souls of men purified by the water which
has washed the feet of a miserable, sinful man! Is there any religion
more monstrous and diabolical than the Brahmin religion?
Yes, there is one more monstrous, deceitful, and contaminating than
that. It is the religion which teaches that the soul of man is purified
by a few magical words (called absolution) which come from the lips of a
miserable sinner, whose heart and intelligence have just been filled by
the unmentionable impurities of Dens, Liguori, Debreyne, Kenrick,
&c. , &c. For if the poor Indian's soul is not purified by the
drinking of the holy (?) water which has touched the feet of his priest,
at least that soul cannot be contaminated by it. But who does not
clearly see that the drinking of the vile questions of the confessor
contaminate, defile and damn the soul?
Who has not been filled with deep compassion and pity for those poor
idolaters of Hindoostan, who believe that they will secure to themselves
a happy passage to the next life, if they have the good luck to die when
holding in their hands the tail of a cow? But there are people among us
who are not less worthy of our supreme compassion and pity; for they
hope that they will be purified from their sins and be forever happy, if
a few magical words (called absolution) fall upon their souls from the
polluted lips of a miserable sinner, sent by the Pope of Rome. The dirty
tail of a cow, and the magical words of a confessor, to purify the souls
and wash away the sins of the world, are equally inventions of the
devil. Both religions come from Satan, for they equally substitute the
magical power of vile creatures for the blood of Christ, to save the
guilty children of Adam. They both ignore that the blood of the Lamb alone
cleanseth us from all sin.
Yes! auricular confession is a public act of idolatry. It is asking
from a man what God alone, through His Son Jesus, can grant: forgiveness
of sins. Has the Saviour of the world ever said to sinners, "Go to
this or that man for repentance, pardon and peace?" No: but he has
said to all sinners, "Come unto me." And from that day to the
end of the world, all the echoes of heaven and earth will repeat these
words of the merciful Saviour to all the lost children of
Adam—"Come unto me."
When Christ gave to His disciples the power of the keys in these
words, "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in
heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven" (Matt. xviii. 18), He had just explained His mind by
saying, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee" (v. 15).
The Son of God Himself, in that solemn hour, protested against the
stupendous imposture of Rome, by telling us positively that that power
of binding and loosing, forgiving and retaining sins, was only in
reference to sins committed against each other. Peter had
correctly understood his Master's words, when he asked, "How oft
shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?"
And in order that His true disciples might not be shaken by the
sophisms of Rome, or by the glittering nonsense of that band of silly
half-Popish Episcopalians, called Tractarians, Ritualists, or Puseyites,
the merciful Saviour gave the admirable parable of the poor servant,
which He closed by what He has so often repeated, "So likewise
shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye, from your hearts,
forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matt. xviii.
Not long before, He had again mercifully given us His whole mind
about the obligation and power which every one of His disciples had of
forgiving:—"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly
Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive men not their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
(Matt. vi. 14, 15.)
"Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful;
forgive and ye shall be forgiven." (Luke vi. 36, 37.)
Auricular Confession, as the Rev. Dr. Wainwright has so eloquently
put it in his "Confession not Auricular," is a diabolical
caricature of the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ, just
as the impious dogma of Transubstantiation is a monstrous caricature of
the salvation of the world through His death.
The Romanists, and their ugly tail, the Ritualistic party in the
Episcopal Church, make a great noise about the words of our Saviour, in
St. John: "Whatsoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them:
and whatsoever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John xx. 23.)
But. again, our Saviour had Himself, once for all, explained what He
meant by forgiving and retaining sins—Matt. xviii. 35; Matt. vi. 14,
15; Luke vi. 36, 37.
Nobody but wilfully-blind men could misunderstand Him. Besides that,
the Holy Ghost Himself has mercifully taken care that we should not be
deceived by the lying traditions of men, on that important subject, when
in St. Luke He gave us the explanation of the meaning of John xx. 23, by
telling us, "Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the
dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be
preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
(Luke xxiv. 46, 47.)
In order that we may better understand the words of our Saviour in
St. John xx. 23, let us put them face to face with His own explanations
(Luke xxiv. 46, 47).
33. And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and
found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them.
34. Saying, the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon . .
. . .
36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them,
and said unto them, Peace be unto you.
18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the
Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week,
when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of
the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace
be unto you.
37. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they
had seen a spirit.
38. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts
arise in your hearts?
39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and
see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.
40. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his
41. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said
unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43. And he took it, and did eat before them.
44. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto
you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which
were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms
45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand
46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved
Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his
side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father
hath sent me, even so send I you.
22. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in
his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
23. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; whose
soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Three things are evident from comparing the report of St. John and
1. They speak of the same event, though one of them gives certain
details omitted by the other, as we find in the rest of the gospels.
2. The words of St. John, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are
remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are
retained," are explained by the Holy Ghost Himself, in St. Luke, as
meaning that the apostles shall preach repentance and forgiveness of
sins through Christ. It is just what our Saviour has Himself said in St.
Matthew ix. 13: "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have
mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but
sinners to repentance."
It is just the same doctrine taught by Peter (Acts ii. 38):
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Just the same doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, not through
auricular confession or absolution, but through the preaching of the
Word: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that
through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins "
(Acts xiii. 38).
3. The third thing which is evident is that the apostles were not
alone when Christ appeared and spoke, but that several of His other
disciples, even some women, were there.
If the Romanists, then, could prove that Christ established auricular
confession, and gave the power of absolution, by what He said in that
solemn hour, women as well as men—in fact, every believer in
Christ—would be authorized to hear confessions and give absolution.
The Holy Ghost was not promised or given only to the Apostles, but to
every believer, as we see in Acts i. 15, and ii. 1, 2, 3.
But the Gospel of Christ, as well as the history of the first ten
centuries of Christianity, is the witness that auricular confession and
absolution are nothing else but a sacrilegious as well as a most
What tremendous efforts the priests of Rome have made, these last
five centuries, and are still making, to persuade their dupes that the
Son of God was making of them a privileged caste, a caste endowed with
the Divine and exclusive power of opening and shutting the gates of
Heaven, when He said, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be
bound in Heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed
in Heaven. "
But our adorable Saviour, who perfectly foresaw those diabolical
efforts on the part of the priests of Rome, entirely upset every vestige
of their foundation by saying immediately, "Again I say unto you,
That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they
shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in
the midst of them (Matt. xviii. 19, 20.)
Would the priests of Rome attempt to make us believe that these words
of the 19th and 20th verses are addressed to them exclusively? They have
not yet dared to say it. They confess that these words are addressed to
all His disciples. But our Saviour positively says that the other words,
implicating the so-called power of the priests to hear the confession
and give the absolution, are addressed to the very same persons—"
I say unto you," &c., &c. The you of the 19th and
20th verses is the same you of the 18th. The power of loosing and
unloosing is, then, given to all-those who would be offended and would
forgive. Then, our Saviour had not in His mind to form a caste of men
with any marvellous power over the rest of His disciples. The priests of
Rome, then, are impostors, and nothing else, when they say that the
power of loosing and unloosing sins was exclusively granted to them.
Instead of going to the confessor, let the Christian go to his
merciful God, through Christ, and say, "Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive them that trespass against us." This is the Truth,
not as it comes from the Vatican, but as it comes from Calvary, where
our debts were paid, with the only condition that we should believe,
repent and love.
Have not the Popes publicly and repeatedly anathematized the sacred
principle of Liberty of Conscience? Have they not boldly said, in the
teeth of the nations of Europe, that Liberty of Conscience must
be destroyed—killed at any cost? Has not the whole world heard the
sentence of death to liberty coming from the lips of the old man of the
Vatican? But where is the scaffold on which the doomed Liberty must
perish? That scaffold is the confessional-box. Yes, in the confessional,
the Pope has his 100,000 high executioners! There they are, day and
night, with sharp daggers in hand, stabbing Liberty to the heart.
In vain will noble France expel her old tyrants in order to be free;
in vain will she shed the purest blood of her heart to protect and save
liberty! True liberty cannot live a day there so long as the
executioners of the Pope are free to stab her on their 100,000
In vain chivalrous Spain will call Liberty to give a new life to her
people. Liberty cannot set her feet there, except to die, so long as the
Pope is allowed to strike her in his 50,000 confessionals.
And free America, too, will see all her so dearly-bought liberties
destroyed, the day that the confessional-box is universally reared in
Auricular Confession and Liberty cannot stand together on the same
ground; either one or the other must fall.
Liberty must sweep away the confessional, as she has swept away the
demon of slavery, or she is doomed to perish.
Can a man be free in his own house, so long as there is another who
has the legal right to spy all his actions, and direct not only every
step, but every thought of his wife and children? Can that man boast of
a home whose wife and children are under the control of another? Is not
that unfortunate man really the slave of the ruler and master of his
household? And when a whole nation is composed of such husbands and
fathers, is it not a nation of abject, degraded slaves?
To a thinking man, one of the most strange phenomena is that our
modern nations allow their most sacred rights to be trampled under foot,
and destroyed by the Papacy, the sworn enemy of Liberty, through a
mistaken respect and love for that same Liberty!
No people have more respect for Liberty of Conscience than the
Americans; but has the noble State of Illinois allowed Joe Smith and
Brigham Young to degrade and enslave the American women under the
pretext of Liberty of Conscience, appealed to by the so-called
"Latter-day Saints ?" No! The ground was soon made too hot for
the tender conscience of the modern prophets. Joe Smith perished when
attempting to keep his captive wives in his chains, and Brigham Young
had to fly to the solitudes of the Far West, to enjoy what he called his
liberty of conscience with the thirty women whom he had degraded, and
enchained under his yoke. But even in that remote solitude the false
prophet has heard the distant peals of the roaring thunder. The
threatened voice of the great Republic has troubled his rest, and before
his death he wisely spoke of going as much as possible out of the reach
of Christian civilisation, before the dark and threatening clouds which
he saw on the horizon would hurl upon him their irresistible storms.
Will any one blame the American people for so going to the rescue of
women? No, surely not.
But what is this confessional box? Nothing but a citadel and
stronghold of Mormonism.
What is this Father Confessor, with few exceptions, but a lucky
I do not want to be believed on my ipse dixit. What I ask from
serious thinkers is, that they should read the encyclicals of the Piuses,
the Gregorys, the Benoits, and many other Popes, "De
Sollicitantibus." There they will see, with their own eyes, that,
as a general thing, the confessor has more women to serve him than the
Mormon prophets ever had. Let him read the memoirs of one of the most
venerable men of the Church of Rome, Bishop Scipio de Ricci, and they
will see, with their own eyes, that the confessors are more free with
their penitents, even nuns, than husbands are with their wives. Let them
hear the testimony of one of the noblest princesses of Italy, Henrietta
Carraceiolo, who still lives, and they will know that the Mormons have
more respect for women than the greater part of the confessors have. Let
them read the personal experience of Miss O'Gorman, five years a nun in
the United States, and they will understand that the priests and their
female penitents, even nuns, are outraging all the laws of God and man,
through the dark mysteries of auricular confession. That Miss O'Gorman,
as well as Miss Henrietta Carraceiolo, are still living. Why are they
not consulted by those who like to know the truth, and who fear that we
exaggerate the infamies which come from "auricular confession"
as from their infallible source? Let them hear the lamentations of
Cardinal Baronius, St. Bernard, Savanarola, Pius, Gregory, St. Therese,
St. Liguori, on the unspeakable and irreparable ruin spread all along
the ways and all over the countries haunted by the Pope's confessors,
and they will know that the confessional-box is the daily witness of
abominations which would hardly have been tolerated in the lands of
Sodom and Gomorrah. Let the legislators, the fathers and husbands of
every nation and tongue, interrogate Father Gavazzi, Grassi, and
thousands of living priests who, like myself, have miraculously been
taken out from that Egyptian servitude to the promised land, and they
will tell you the same old, old story—that the confessional-box is for
the greatest part of the confessors and female penitents, a real pit of
perdition, into which they promiscuously fall and perish. Yes; they will
tell you that the soul and heart of your wife and daughter are purified
by the magical words of the confessional, just as the souls of the poor
idolaters of Hindoostan are purified by the tail of the cow which they
hold in their hands, when they die. Study the pages of the past history
of England, France, Italy, Spain, &c., &c., and you will see
that the gravest and most reliable historians have, everywhere, found
mysteries of iniquity in the confessional-box which their pen refused to
In the presence of such public, undeniable, and lamentable facts,
have not the civilised nations a duty to perform? Is it not time that
the children of light, the true disciples of the Gospel, all over the
world, should rally round the banners of Christ, and go, shoulder to
shoulder, to the rescue of women?
Woman is to society what the roots are to the most precious trees of
your orchard. If you knew that a thousand worms are biting the roots of
those noble trees, that their leaves are already fading away, their rich
fruits, though yet unripe, are falling on the ground, would you not
unearth the roots and sweep away the worms?
The confessor is the worm which is biting, polluting, and destroying
the very roots of civil and religious society, by contaminating,
debasing, and enslaving woman.
Before the nations can see the reign of peace, happiness, and
liberty, which Christ has promised, they must, like the Israelites, pull
down the walls of Jericho. The confessional is the modern Jericho, which
defiantly dares the children of God!
Let, then, the people of the Lord, the true soldiers of Christ, rise
up and rally around His banners; and let them fearlessly march, shoulder
to shoulder, on the doomed city: let all the trumpets of Israel be
sounded around its walls: let fervent prayers go to the throne of Mercy,
from the heart of every one for whom the Lamb has been slain: let such a
unanimous cry of indignation be heard, through the length and breadth of
the land, against that greatest and most monstrous imposture of modern
times, that the earth will tremble under the feet of the confessor, so
that his very knees will shake, and soon the walls of Jericho, will
fall, the confessional will disappear, and its unspeakable pollutions
will no more imperil the very existence of society.
Then the multitudes who were kept captive will come to the Lamb, who
will make them pure with His blood and free with His word.
Then the redeemed nations will sing a song of joy: "Babylon, the
great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, is fallen!
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