Encyclopedia Article


The role a priest plays during a Catholic confession. In this function, the priest witnesses a supplicant's oral and physical expression of his or her desire to "return" to the Christian God after straying from the path of righteousness. The self-professed sinner acknowledges his or her sins by revealing them, in a private audience, to the priest, who has the power to authorize forgivenss on God's behalf, especially when accompanied by some sort of performative act of contrition. Ultimately, the supplicant receives absolution from the priest.

Similar to the rights of privacy that exist between a doctor and his or her patients, a priest is also under obligation to preserve and respect the privacy of the members of his congregation, meaning that what is said to the priest stays with the priest.

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"Priest hearing confessions before Liturgy, Holy Protection Church, Düsseldorf, August 13, 2009" by Velopilger is licensed under Public Domai.

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