“Ask a Priest: What If Our Priest Is Trying to Confess People Online?”

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Q: My husband and I are distraught over some actions and attitudes of our priest. We are even wondering if our continuing in this parish is to our condemnation. We live in the Far North of Scotland, which is a very spiritually dark place. Secularism is rampant here. There are few Catholic churches, even fewer priests, and several who seem to have readily embraced the culture of the day. So, we’re pretty much on the very geographical fringes of the faith. It is hard going and often cause for despair. We are especially concerned that our priest does not hold to the Truth, and that he does not care about the directives of the Church. 1) He is confessing people (those very few people who even bother) online. 2) He has said he “hates” saying Mass “alone” — obviously not believing the saints and angels are present. 3) He removes the Creed from Sunday Mass (pre-COVID-19) almost every week, for no good reason, leading us to believe he does not believe it. 4) He thinks priests should perform weddings online. We feel bereft here, but really wonder if we should distance ourselves, and go to the next parish over. We think he is watering down the faith. He also refers to the Old Testament narratives as fables. Any direction you can provide is hugely appreciated. – S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the situation in Scotland. Unfortunately, what you mention is a sign of the times.

So what to do?

You mention that the priest doesn’t like celebrating Mass alone. Perhaps he feels a bit lonely. You might want to intensify your prayers for him. You might try to reach out to him, invite him for lunch, and build a friendship with him. That might give you the chance to nudge him in the right direction.

If that isn’t practical, you might think about contacting the bishop about the online confessions (they are invalid) and the dropping of the Creed at Mass (not licit).

If nothing works, and the situation is undermining your faith, then you might think about finding another parish. You have a right to have the sacraments celebrated correctly and with dignity.

In the meantime you might also look for ways to get prayer circles and Eucharistic adoration going for vocations. “Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

You might see if you can network with other faithful Catholics in Scotland — there has to be a few of them out there.

And feel free to take advantage of things on the Internet, such as this RC Spirituality website, to nourish your spiritual life.

Above all, don’t despair. Our Lord calls us to fidelity, not victory.

We likely won’t see the world turn around in our lifetime. But that’s OK — we can still do our part to live, love and pass on the faith. For love of Jesus.

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