Catholic World News

Man pulls gun on priest during confession

June 29, 2016

A Catholic priest in Ohio has revealed that a man aimed a gun at him while making his confession earlier this month.

The priest said that the man did not threaten him, but continued to hold the gun pointed at him. "I've never done confession with somebody pointing a gun at me the whole time," he remarked.

Police in Rocky River, Ohio, have circulated a description of the man, and asked for public help in apprehending him. The Cleveland diocese advised priests to exercise caution after the bizarre incident.


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  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jun. 30, 2016 3:49 PM ET USA

    It seems to me there could be other seal of confession issues besides the question of whether the priest could report that a man pointed a gun at him throughout their interaction (it does seem like it would be okay and the responsible thing to do). The priest is unable to explain the situation since he cannot report the content of what they said to each other (for instance, could have been more of a stick-up robbery attempt than a sincere confession of sin).

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 30, 2016 1:02 AM ET USA

    The so-called "reconciliation rooms" for face-to-face confessions create possibilities for all kinds of abuses and awkward situations. The common sense response from the diocese should be to suggest going back to the regular traditional confessionals; for the safety of the confessors and of the penitents. Recommendation to "exercise caution" doesn't mean anything. @ElizabethD: reporting the gun incident doesn't break the seal of confession if no details of the actual confession are disclosed.

  • Posted by: mwean7331 - Jun. 29, 2016 10:43 PM ET USA

    with reference to Elizabeth's explanation. Thank you Elizabeth. I never did understand why face to face confession was instituted. what is wrong with the screen and separation we always had? There be no need for emergency exits. Why are we always reinventing the wheel?

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 29, 2016 9:52 PM ET USA

    With the available information it appears that the seal of confession has been broken. As I understand it the priest can't even say that he heard the confession more less give police his description.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jun. 29, 2016 6:23 PM ET USA

    One also wonders whether the priest gave absolution and its validity under duress. Maybe the penitent's chair should be on a trap door that would drop him into a padded cell.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jun. 29, 2016 5:53 PM ET USA

    If you read the details of the story it was a face to face confession situation. Behind a screen, this individual would have had to think of something else to create the drama he intended. Parishioners designing a "confession room" at my parish insisted on creating an emergency exit for Father in case of a threatening situation. Father tried to insist that was not necessary and the parishioners made it with the escape door anyway. One wonders about the seal of confession angle on this story.