Category Archives: confession

What Would Have Been the Fate of Dutch Schultz if God Used Zero Tolerance?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This past Sunday two of my grand kids made their First Confession. It is always a beautiful thing when children receive their first sacraments. Invariably, they never forget those moments. I was seven years old when I made my First Confession and I can still vividly remember that day.  I do not remember what sins I confessed because, at seven, the only thing I can remember ever doing was picking on my little sister all the time. And I know I had been punished for that—numerous times.

Last Tuesday they had a penance service in my parish. I was stunned at the large crowd. Eight priests were available to hear confessions and the church did not close up until almost 10 p.m.  I wondered if any of the people who went to confession that evening were denied absolution because what they had done was considered “unforgivable”? Ridiculous, right? Everything is forgivable, isn’t it? And it does not matter if you are six, seven or one hundred and eight.

To give an example of how God’s mercy is ALWAYS available to those who seek it I would like to briefly mention a man by the name of Arthur Flegenheimer. Arthur was born in New York City in 1901. A German-Jew, by the time he was 27 he was known as Dutch Schultz and was quickly becoming one of the most feared mob bosses in New York. The “Dutchman” was a bootlegger (running illegal whiskey), a number’s boss operating in Harlem and a “shakedown artist” within the NYC restaurant industry offering protection while using the restaurant unions as cover.

His main enforcer was the infamous, Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll, a brutal killer who did Schultz’s bidding without hesitation. Eventually the “Dutchman” got tired of Coll’s wanting more money. As “Mad Dog” sat in a telephone booth talking on the phone he was machine gunned to death by Schultz’s henchmen. Dutch actually proved to be a more brutal killer then “Mad Dog” Coll. So how does my brain tie Dutch Schultz, the Sacrament of Penance and Zero-Tolerance together? Actually, it is not that hard to do.

Dutch Schultz wanted to kill U. S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey (Later to be Governor of NY and the Presidential Candidate losing to Harry Truman in the 1948 election). The Mafia Commission told Schultz,  “NO, it would cause us too much trouble.” Schultz refused to listen and decided to  kill Dewey anyway. The mob, under Lucky Luciano, sent “Murder Inc.” after Schultz. They gunned him down in a restaurant in Newark, N.J  on October 23, 1935. Enter the sacrament of Penance and Forgiveness.

When Dutch Schultz was acquitted  on tax-evasion charges he converted to Catholicism. He believed that Jesus had saved him. (He was also trying to impress Lucky Luciano). When he was shot he did not die right away. He was taken to the hospital for surgery and he immediately asked for a priest. He was 34 years  old  and his last thought while he was dying was to  ask Jesus for forgiveness and mercy.  He went to confession, received absolution and was administered the Last Rites of the Church by a priest. Then he died.  Did Dutch Schultz go right to heaven? Did he get to the “pearly gates” and have St. Peter say, “Sorry Dutch, that priest made a mistake. What you did was “Unforgivable. We operate under a strict “Zero-Tolerance” policy. You are not welcome here.” I think not.

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Holy week begins. All over the world Catholic/Christian people celebrate the bloodied, tortured and crucified Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus embraced forgiveness for all people and extended love to everyone. This is also what He wanted us to do. This is why he suffered and died for us. He offered Himself to His Father for us. His Father’s gift back to us is the Risen Christ. We all have been saved and we all  can get to share eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. Because of God’s mercy even Dutch Schultz can join in the celebration. It is a beauty beyond description.

The only people who remain among the ranks of the “unforgiven” during the Easter celebrations and all through the year are those who are subject to the man made rules of Zero-Tolerance. This includes  Zero-Tolerance rules as set in place by much of the Catholic hierarchy. But God Himself could never be party to Zero-Tolerance since it would be a contradiction of His perfection. Maybe this Easter the hierarchy of the Church, as they celebrate new Light during the Easter Vigil, should begin re-thinking this intransigent policy called Zero-Tolerance. If it did not apply to Dutch Schultz, well, —-who am I to judge?

                                      copyright © 2015 Larry Peterson

Another Attempt to Break Down the Doors of the Confessional

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The Sacrament of Penance is a magnificent gift we Catholics have been given and the beauty of its effectiveness is encapsulated into what is known as the Seal of Confession.  Anyone who goes to confession has the absolute certainty that whatever he or she confesses to the priest will NEVER,  no matter what, leave that confessional.  Confession is between the penitent and Christ.  The priest represents Christ and is able to talk to the penitent, advise and counsel them, or simply listen to them.  When the person is finished confessing the priest asks that person to say an “Act of Contrition”.  This is when the person expresses their sorrow for the sins they have confessed.  Then the priest imparts Absolution .  It is one of the most beautiful prayers there is and this is where God is called upon to give pardon to the sinner.

 Not all judges, politicians and lawyers are secularists; but there are many who are.  It seems that many of these folks are ideologically bent and have become true Machiavellians (people that believe that the “end justifies the means”).  Forget “Natural Law”,  cast out common sense, trash the Ten Commandments, because none of that matters anymore.  As long as the needs of those demanding “change” are satisfied we have attained “virtue”. This is “hogwash” but the Supreme Court of Louisiana thinks differently.  It has ruled that  Father Jeff Bayhi, a priest for 35 years, a man who has served the poor and downtrodden and worked hand in hand with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, may have to testify about an “alleged” confession.

Apparently, a girl who was 14 in 2008, says she went to confession to Father Bayhi at the time and told him that she was abused by a now dead parishioner.  The girl’s parents sued Father Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge for failing to report the abuse. The parents won their case in district court which said that Father Bayhi must testify.  Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision but then the State Supreme Court once again sided with the parents.  The state’s highest court said that Father Bayhi may be subject to “mandatory reporting” laws regarding sexual abuse and cannot invoke the privilege of “confidentiality”.  There you have it;  the “virtue of secularism”.  It is not enough to have this young woman, who is now 20 years old, tell the police and state’s attorneys her story.  It is not enough to have years of  the documentation on hand that is required to even pursue the case.  The accused abuser is dead.  SO–let’s get the priest to violate the “Seal of the Confessional”.  The accused abuser never confessed and, even if that were the case, the Seal of the Confessional is inviolate. The priest is bound to silence, silence forever.

Our nation is founded under the Judeo-Christian principle which is followed by Natural Law.  Our First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Religion.  A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been in effect for two thousand years and is part of a Sacrament instituted by Christ Himself, mandates that the “Seal of Confession”  is absolute and inviolable.  A priest must NEVER break the Seal.  He cannot even admit that someone went to confession to him.  No-one, not even the Pope himself, can mandate a priest violate this oath.  The priest would have to suffer the civil and criminal consequences, even death if necessary, rather than betray this most sacred of trusts.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge explained in their statement that, “a priest is under the gravest of obligations NOT to reveal the contents of a confession or if the confession even took place.  He cannot do so even under threat of imprisonment or civil penalty, and incurs automatic excommunication if he breaks the “seal of confession”.  The Church takes this pretty serious, don’t you think?

The secular world has grown not only intrusive into the world of Catholicism but it has become overly obnoxious, nasty, vitriolic and downright hateful.  Under the banner of “virtue” secularism honors abortion, euthanasia and sexual promiscuity as a right and a necessity akin to breathing and eating and sleeping.  These secularists, some who claim to be Catholic, support these behaviors and are against any kind of “moral” boundaries.  Sadly, many court decisions support their beliefs.  One thing they need to understand–they can NEVER nullify, invalidate or strike down the magnificence and profound power of the “Seal of Confession”. Do not be surprised if this case winds up in the United States Supreme Court.