Seal of Confession – Inviolable…

Seal of Confession – Inviolable…

The Big Questions, a discussion show broadcast live on BBC 1 on Sundays, recently included the topic: Are any sins unforgivable” 

Francis Davis
Francis Davis

The presenter, Nicky Campbell, inevitably raised the issue of child abuse by priests.  He turned to the token Catholic on the panel, to suggest that priests should report anyone to the police who confessed that sin  and he, Professor Francis Davis (impressive academic title notwithstanding) hadn’t a clue how to explain and defend the seal of Confession. It took the Anglican  a couple of seats away, to do so.  In fact, Davis appears to concede that there is a case for breaking the inviolable seal of Confession. Tell me if I’m misunderstanding him. You can click here to see the show for yourself – scroll along to 39.14 to hear Nicky introduce the question directed at Francis Davis and notice his apparent concession at 41.06.

Davis has a column in the Catholic Times, which I stopped reading because Mgr Loftus’ column is published just below the Davis piece and I just can’t take both on the same day, over the same cuppa.  I need a break, so I generally forget, conveniently, to go back to digest the Davis stuff – and it is “stuff” – the last column I read (5/2/16) is akin to a personal diary of his drinking habits as he participated in the fashionable  Dry January campaign.  When he writes about Catholic matters it’s a case of not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Not sure why he’s published above the Mgr Loftus column but it sure ain’t to provide a contrast. They’re both “liberals” to their fingertips.

As we enter Lent today, Ash Wednesday, we might reflect on and discuss the importance of Confession – and explain to the lurkers why no priest may ever divulge anything they learn in Confession.

Comments (110)

  • editor

    Attention, one and all!

    As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, we have a reader, an elderly Glaswegian gentleman, who insists on handing me a bag containing all the Catholic papers on sale at the back of churches, and this includes the (Not-So) Catholic Times, after Mass every Sunday. I emphasise at all times, that I do not ask for these papers, do not want them, and NEVER pay for them.

    Well, perhaps predictably, we are the subject of Mr Davis’ column in this week’s Catholic Times, and it is very nasty indeed. He is clearly livid that we have exposed his ignorance about the seal of Confession – so much so that he makes no reference to the topic (just “a recent TV appearance”) and, of course, uses the language of “attack” – we are “attacking” him (not correcting his error and exposing the poor level of “journalism” now commonplace in the so called Catholic press).

    Anyway, I don’t have time to quote from the piece now – I’ve only just scanned it myself – but will do so asap, probably some time tomorrow. In a kind of childish “dah, dah, dah dah dah” he suggests more than once that the fact that we are commenting on his column, shows that we are buying the paper, so the joke is on us, words to that effect. Pity he didn’t just leave well alone because, yet again, he has humiliated himself. Still, no complaints from moi – saves me doing it! I repeat, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a copy of the Catholic Times. A very VERY long time ago, be assured.

    In any case the last laugh is on him, since, while he repeatedly refers to our website as “small”, “little”, obscure”, he seems not to have noticed that the Catholic Times doesn’t have a website at all! Priceless.

    Stay tuned, more in due course…

    February 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm
  • Athanasius


    I also glance through the Catholic Times every now and again just to keep abreast of its revolutionary agenda. But, I hasten to add, like you, I never pay for the rag. I get it free from someone else.

    So, having read Francis Davis’ outburst against Catholic Truth, I can only say: ‘Ditto, Mr. Davis. Your attack on the Traditional Faith, upheld and defended here on Catholic Truth, should increase our readership and hopefully our contributor base.’ Many thanks for the publicity.

    Poor man! He writes for the so-called Catholic Times, renowned for its liberalism, in which no Traditional minded Catholic ever gets a say, and then claims he’s not a liberal. He further lists the names of liberals he esteems and then claims he is not a liberal. He waxes lyrical about all the social issues needing addressed in this world without once mentioning the primary mission of the Church, which is to save immortal souls, and then reiterates that he is not a liberal.

    Sorry Mr. Davis, but you are about as liberal as they come. Your religion is more Marxist socialism than the supernatural religion of those saints and martyrs you falsely attempt to align yourself with. They sacrificed their lives for the truth. You sacrifice the truth. That’s what liberals do!

    February 22, 2016 at 12:18 am
    • editor


      I had a telephone call from a gentleman in England first thing this morning about this. He says he never pays for the Catholic Times either, just “borrows” a copy from the local cathedral, makes notes in a book so that he can quote nonsense to any priest friends who visit, and that’s it. “Borrowing” is a great idea! I make a point of not asking my source how he comes by his copies, but I do remember him quoting Hamish Fraser, the famous Scots convert from Communism, who said that to pay for these Catholic, so called, newspapers, would be a sin. And that was way before the crisis – and the papers – were as bad as they are now.

      I’ll be back shortly with some quotes from the Davis column, as promised.

      February 22, 2016 at 5:05 pm
      • editor

        The Francis Davis column in the Catholic Times dated 19th February, 2016, is headlined: Looking forward, not to the past which is your first clue that this is another cross between Catholic Tradition bashing and an outright hate-fest.

        Note: the extracts below are copied verbatim – I’ve not corrected grammatical or punctuation errors – it was hard enough work doing that when I was being paid for it, but I’m retired, now, folks, so live with it!


        Mr Davis begins:

        I want to tell you a very little joke. Are you ready? Yes, well, the extremely small joke is ‘Catholic Truth’.

        Now, before you jump off your chairs I am not talking about the magisterium but about an obscure website that has decided that Mgr Basil Loftus (seen elsewhere in this newspaper)*1 and I are worthy of being attacked.

        This little website posted a funny and scurrilous little rant about a recent TV appearance of mine and my article the other week expressing solidarity with those who have faced drinking problems.*2

        And, just as when I heard that a certain lobster-coloured prelate was incandescent about something I had written, I just want to say the joke is on those who run this little site: For they must have bought this newspaper to be able to read the columns that have got them so worked up into a lather.

        The anonymous blogger on this little website calls me a “liberal”… I am not a liberal but nor am I a dried up so-called “traditionalist” slugging it out over tinsel, tat and desperate arguments about which way the priest should face at the altar… the purpose of the Church is not a frilly parlour game but, as Pope Francis has said, to act as a lifeboat amidst the storms of our pilgrimage. It is not some (sad) identity game but the core business of life. Because I find the self-referential, tired, frightened and worn dimensions of conviction that others distract us with simply decadent in a world that struggles so much I am not a liberal. And it is intellectually lazy and theological self-referential again to cast out such an epithet.

        Which brings me back to that little joke of the very little blog.

        Columnists love it when you froth about anything we write. It means more people will read this newspaper. We want to provoke debate and conversation, challenge and inspiration. We want you to scribble in green ink to the Editor calling for our columns to be axed because every time you do it shows that you are reading us, buying the newspaper. We just wish that you would do it well, with nuanced understanding and a real ability to hear what has been said…

        It’s because we love the Church that we follow the example of Pope Francis and throw out deep challenge and call for a full conversation.

        As such we are part of the hopeful future of the universal Church rather than some self-invented past that never existed, or some identity cult dressed up as a ‘new evangelisation’.

        I think this mean, I’m afraid, that the joke is on those who can’t cope. They may even just be picking up their pens to complain (and prove that they bought the paper again) right now. END OF EXTRACTS.

        Well, folks, can you imagine the hapless editor of the Catholic Times publishing any letters from any of us, pointing out that we do not, and never could, in conscience, buy that paper? So, we’ll pass on the green ink.
        There’s always the April edition of Catholic Truth, of course, so Mr Davis can look forward to a mention there. Our readership is educated and informed in a way that those who buy the Catholic Times are not. It’s a long time, as I say, since I paid good money to purchase a copy, and it’s a very long time since I’ve encountered anyone else who has done so, but (and here’s the laugh) even the gentleman who insists on giving me a copy every week, tells me he never reads the Davis column – he shares my view that having to plough through the baloney in the Mgr Loftus column is enough of a penance for one Sunday!

        *1 Mgr Loftus column is published on the same page, just below the Francis Davis piece. That Mr Davis doesn’t appear to know that, suggests that even the columnists don’t read the paper right through!

        *2 Note that Mr Davis makes no mention of the nature of our criticism here. No mention of the topic, the seal of Confession and his inability to explain it. The Catholic Times readers are allowed to believe that we were just “attacking” him without any context being offered. And the column to which he refers was not about those who have faced drinking problems – there may have been a reference to such in there, I can’t recall, but I did read it at the time and thought what a piece of nonsense it was, Mr Davis keen to show that he knew all about the fad of “Dry January” where people cut down on or cut out alcohol consumption, on a sort of “let’s see what it’s like” basis. I remember thinking at the time that the entire piece was shallow, and on the same level as the various radio phone-in discussions on the same topic.

        February 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        That’s a terrible article. It’s a shameless attack on this blog without having the humility to admit that he bottled it when asked to explain the seal of confession. I’d have had some respect for him if he had said he had a senior moment or his mind went blank because he knew the seal is unpopular with the child abuse campaign people, but to attack this blog instead is completely shameless.

        February 22, 2016 at 9:29 pm
  • Therese

    Not only does Mr Davis not know how to explain Catholic teaching on the seal of confession, he also seems unable to comprehend that one doesn’t need to buy the rag for which he writes (badly) in order to read the rubbish he writes. His hopes for an increase in the circulation of the organ for which he contributes will be dashed, so we should have a little pity for him.

    Yes, well, the extremely small joke is ‘Catholic Truth’.

    Now, before you jump off your chairs I am not talking about the magisterium.

    Very wise, as he clearly isn’t qualified to do any such thing.

    February 22, 2016 at 6:45 pm
  • Athanasius


    The tragic irony is that liberals like Mr. Davis and his fellow Times columnist, Mgr. Basil Loftus, do think Magisterial Catholic Truth is a joke. Mgr. Loftus has attacked it for years in his heterodox writings and Mr. Davis, by siding with Mgr. Loftus and criticising this blog, which exists primarily to uphold Magisterial Catholic Truth, gives his hand away. Let the man come on here to debate, for example, ecumenism in light of consistent magisterial teaching, if he has the courage, and we’ll see just how Traditional or liberal he actually is. Hit and run from the safety of a heavily censored liberal rag is not how Catholics discuss and defend supernatural truth. At least he will get his say here, which is more than I could ever hope for at his headquarters. So there’s the challenge, Mr. Davis. What say ye?

    February 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      It would be wonderful if Mr Davis took up your challenge, but I can’t see it myself. Will wait with great interest to see if he takes you on. If only! LOL!

      February 22, 2016 at 9:31 pm
      • Athanasius

        Margaret Mary

        I know it’s a bit of a forlorn hope. Mr. Davis’ sort don’t enter into honest debate. They can’t, because every word of Traditional Magisterial teaching stands to defeat them.

        February 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm
      • editor


        Our occasional “Good Clean Fun” jokes threads aside, your challenge to Francis Davis is easily the best laugh I’ve had in ages! No WAY will he come on here to participate in our discussion – still, as I say, you’ve given us some fun. A bit naughty, since we’re in Lent, but…well…nobody’s perfect 😀

        February 23, 2016 at 12:13 am
      • Athanasius


        I’m entitled to a bit of fun, struggling as I am to keep up my Lenten penance of giving up paying the bills!

        February 23, 2016 at 12:30 am
  • Therese


    Now don’t be cruel! Doesn’t your heart melt when you picture Mr Davis huddled in the circulation office, optimistically waiting for the number of sales to go up from those reading “this little website”?

    Now, I know you’ve got a sense of humour, but you’re stretching it to breaking point if you think that Mr Davis is capable (let alone honest enough) of debating Catholics such as yourself and others on “this little website”. The man cannot even give a cogent explanation of the basics of Catholic belief. Bless ‘im, he hasn’t got a clue.

    February 22, 2016 at 7:58 pm
    • Athanasius


      Yes, it was a bit cruel of me, I admit it.

      February 22, 2016 at 11:20 pm

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