Add to that our bi-ennial General Absolution is available after all Masses this weekend – he instructed parishioners that they don’t need to mention any specific sins, but will be absolved from all their sins on receiving his absolution. God help us! I’m a secular Carmelite so one aspect of our vocation is praying for priests – I’m praying very hard for him and offering up trials and suffering that his eyes will be opened, but wonder if I should be doing something more concrete? I’d be grateful for your advice.Fr Z correctly points out that the worried parishioner should calmly write to his or her bishop about this. He also points out that repeated General Absolution is invalid.
This is a point that I wish was made more often and any time I'm asked about this, I always make the point that unless it's an emergency situation a priest cannot validly give general absolution. Additionally, when general absolution is given, penitents must be reminded that they should confess the sins which have been forgiven through general absolution the next time they make a proper one-on-one confession.
A Sacrament - not magic
I can only conclude that the priests who give general absolution willy-nilly either have some very strange ideas about their power to administer the Lord's forgiveness or don't believe in the forgiveness of sins at all. I mean, if I believed that I could forgive sins as a matter of routine by means of general absolution, I would walk up and down the Main Street of my parish every morning with a loud-hailer forgiving the sins of all my parishioners on a daily basis. I think the question should be asked of any priest who regularly gives general absolution why he doesn't do that.
The administration of general absolution as a matter of routine transforms the priest's power to grant absolution from a sacramental act into a magical act. As I administer the sacrament of confession, I believe that through my ordination and the power granted to Christ by the Church, I can make Christ's own forgiveness present to the penitent who approaches me with the desire to receive Christ's mercy. I believe that absolution given in this context is simultaneously an act of Christ, of the Church and of the Priest. The administration of general absolution - outside of the legitimate limits set by the Church for emergency situations - betrays a belief in magical thinking: the idea that forgiveness can be granted by the recitation of a formula by the priest - setting aside the role of the Church in the forgiveness of sins and depriving the faithful of a genuine encounter with Christ.