French Catholics are confessing adultery and other carnal sins as much as ever according to a glimpse offered by priests into the secrets of the confessional. “Sixty or 70% of confessions involve adultery, double lives, addiction to pornography, use of prostitutes. It’s extremely repetitive,” said Father Cedric, one of 40 clergymen who talked on condition of anonymity in I Forgive you all your Sins, a new book by Vincent Mongaillard. He says he disguised all identities in order not to breach church restrictions on absolute confessional secrecy. Father Cedric reported an unusual confession by a couple in their 50s who took turns in the booth. “She confessed cheating on her husband with a male friend of the couple. Then it was his turn and he confessed that he was cheating on his wife with a man, a friend of the couple. I understood it was the same chap.”
Another priest, Father Christophe, said women confessed adultery as much as men. “There are the people who get straight to the point and others who beat about the bush.” Many women believe that sexual frustration is an excuse for infidelity, said Father Christian, 60, whose parish is in a fashionable western Paris district. “I often hear, ‘I am cheating on my husband because I am not sexually satisfied by him so I make up for it with others.’ But if she is talking like that in confession it means that she is still not satisfied with the situation.” After Catholic youth rallies the priests also said numerous young women of 19 or 20 confessed to watching pornography. Father Marc said many priests brought their sexual anguish to him. “In 95% of cases, they bring up addiction to porn sites. There’s real frustration, a great sense of guilt,” he said.
Though attendance at mass has been in decline for decades, there has been a revival of confession by Catholics, with more young people attending. The opprobrium that pours out of social media is encouraging the young to talk to a priest, who is less judgmental, Father Herve said. “The church judges and condemns much less than the media world, which can lynch you for a tweet,” he said. The priests speak of their moral dilemma when someone admits a crime. A man confessed a murder to Father Cedric. “Several months later I heard that he had pleaded innocent at his trial and he had been acquitted. I could say nothing or I would have been excommunicated,” he said. Many traditionalists are also confessing a dislike of Pope Francis. Father Jacques said. “They say ‘He’s too easy-going on sexuality, he’s a left-wing pope.”
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