Friday, May 6, 2011
THE COMPULSIVE NEED TO KNOW AND TO TELL
Keeping secrets and confidentiality at one time was considered a virtue. Not so today. As soon as someone learns something, whether true or not, it is communicated to someone else. This use to be called gossip. Even major news outlets function in a such a way in order to fill the 24 hour a day news cycle.
Where does this new "virtue" come from? Could Phil Donahue have started it? Did Oprah Winfrey continue it? Does Jerry Springer glorify it?
People are going to confession all over the blogs, talk shows and other venues, like facebook. Much of what they confess is idle gossip and sometimes it is very harmful to the one that is the victim of such gossip. But you won't catch these people going to sacramental confession--that's too secretive, not transparent enough.
Today's public confessions aren't much more than bragging and voyerism. Much of it is for a few minutes of fame of knowing something first and letting the cat out of the bag. Sacramental confession on the other hand is about purging sin, repenting of it, showing some guilt and shame and asking God to take it away, wash it clean, make it disappear.
The same has happened in the Church. So many left-leaning progressives want transparency on everything. They'd love to know what was uttered in confession too. They want to know what the pope told the bishop in Australia who the Holy Father dismissed. They want to know all the facts. But the Holy Father is tight lipped and this has brought upon him libel and slander--he's not transparent enough; there's no due process; who's next? We need to know. But the Holy Father remains tight lipped! Good for him--he's going against the grain; he's counter-cultural in this; he isn't moved by public opinion, only the truth and carrying out his responsibilities before God!
But you know what. Transparency has its limits. Gossip is still a sin and confidentiality still has its admirers.