REFLECTION ON CONFESSION
by Fr. Ted Bobosh
A thought regarding the SIC report's recommendation that the Synod must take disciplinary action against those who participated in the scandal or worked to cover it up. It was said that priests who were named in the SIC report have been humiliated and suffered enough, so no further punishment is needed.
But a friend who knows well one of the perps reports that this man, though named in the report, shows not even the slightest sign of remorse or embarrassment. He simply says, "I did nothing wrong."
At least not, in Clintonesque fashion, as he defines "wrong".
Since he feels he did nothing wrong, he doesn't feel chastened either. Nor does he feel he has anything for which to be remorseful. And he surely doesn't feel embarrassed about his role in the scandal. An amazing thing - millions went missing, money and power abused in every direction, and still no one admits to having done anything wrong. The SIC report names names, but none of them admit to having done anything wrong - and this in a church which mandates, at the minimum, yearly confession.
Confession is easy when you only have to admit to things that don't really matter ("I put cream in my coffee during Lent"). But if you really sinned (stole, embezzled, lied, committed adultery, impoverished orphans, denied Christ) then it is hard to admit you have done so. Your conscience will stay clear as long as you don't believe you did wrong. ("I was doing my duty." "I thought it was the right thing to do at that time." "I wasn't trying to sin.")
Scripture, though, always wants to break through our defense mechanisms:
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not
in us" (1 Jn 1:8-10).
Is confession merely an obligation to be fulfilled by the membership, but truly lacking any saving or healing power?
The Prodigal (Luke 15:11-32) would not have returned home if he had thought had had done nothing wrong - he would have stayed in the pig pen, wallowing in the mire.
I suppose that because none of us did anything wrong in this scandal, that is why we don't need Jesus in this church. He came, after all, to save sinners, and they all belong to some other church apparently. It also probably explains why there is such spiritual bankruptcy in the Church today.
The SIC report, in pointing out fault and responsibility, paved the way for the perps to repent. But that spiritual emptiness in the OCA is not the result of kenotic repentance and humility. Rather it is like the void over which the Spirit hovered in the beginning (Genesis 1:2).