I am watching The Oxbow Incident on Turner Classic Movies. This is my first time watching it. What a great movie!
Three innocent men are about to be lynched. One, a Mexican played by Anthony Quinn, asks for a priest to go to confession. There is no priest and the Mexican asks a Mexican layman to hear his confession and take it to a priest. The three innocent men are lynched.
Is the Mexican’s confession valid?
Kosher or not?
But what a great movie, what I would call a Catholic movie for its moral vision. In the midst of the lynching 7 men of the many in the mob decide not to do the lynching out of a kind of vote demanded by the corrupt leader of the mob. (Do these seven represent the 7 Cardinal Virtues????)
But they aren't enough to thwart the plans to lynch these innocent men so convinced they are of their guilt.
After the lynching and their return home, they learn that the three were indeed innocent.
Then there is a great conclusion to the movie with a discussion of conscience and doing what is right. This was in 1943 and in a western. It is suburb movie, with great acting and well worth watching. It would be a great movie for young Catholic adults to discuss.
The acting or the directing of the actors is phenomenal. There are many humorous moments in the movie and most of these are from the facial expressions of the actors and the use of their bodies.
The actual facial expressions say so much.
The props for the movie are cheap but make it appear as a play on a stage which emphasizes the acting not the locations and makes the movie a bit surreal.
His sins are forgiven when he makes an act of perfect contrition with the resolution to go to confession as soon as possible. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: "Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed together with the resolution not to sin again.’ When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called ‘perfect’ (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible" (CCC 1451–1452).
Perfect contrition isn't a part of Anthony Quinn's decision to go to confession with a "proxy priest." He is about to be lynched and he fears hell more than loves God. Perfect contrition is motivated by love of God primarily, not the pains of hell.
So the question is can a lay person act as a proxy-priest for a person about to die but there is no real priest to be called.
In the movie, Quinn specifically asks the proxy-priest to take his confession to a priest.
I think God could use fear of hell, and death, as a tool for perfect contrition.
But the question is about a designated layman acting as a proxy for a priest, but more accurately acting as a proxy for the penitent who will confess the dead penitent’s sins to a priest for absolution after death.
"Perfect contrition isn't a part of Anthony Quinn's decision to go to confession with a "proxy priest." He is about to be lynched and he fears hell more than loves God. Perfect contrition is motivated by love of God primarily, not the pains of hell. So the question is can a lay person act as a proxy-priest for a person about to die but there is no real priest to be called. In the movie, Quinn specifically asks the proxy-priest to take his confession to a priest.
The same answer applies.
First, you cannot know the character's motivation. Maybe the character said he was afraid of hell, but lots of people say one thing and mean another.
Second, the proxy doesn't enter into the matter, given the Church's teaching as stated above. It is the character's desire to be forgiven that matters.
The use of a proxy is allowed in some matters according to Canon Law. For example: "Proxies for the contracting parties in matrimony in the Latin Church require for validity a special mandate for the contracting of marriage with a specific person, signed by the person giving the mandate and by the pastor or ordinary of the place or a priest designated by one of these priests, or by at least two witnesses (Codex iuris canonici c. 1105). If the mandate is revoked or the party giving the mandate develops amentia before the proxy contracts, the mandate is invalidated immediately (Codex iuris canonici c. 1105 § 4). A minister is generally not to assist at a marriage in which one of the parties is represented by a proxy without first obtaining the permission of a local ordinary (Codex iuris canonici c. 1071 § 1, 7°).
However, Confession does not require nor does it foresee the use of a proxy since the penitent can, as noted above, be absolved from sin through perfect contrition.
Father, I read the book as a child. Excellent story and every lawyer should read it, instead of "To Kill A Mockingbird."
Proxies for confession are lawful. I asked this question as a student at St. Bonaventure University in the 1980s. Father Dan Hurley. O.F.M. Father Dan said it was lawful under thec1917 and 1083 Codes of Canon Law. Father Hurley told us that it was used during World War Two. Furthermore, the proxy was bound by the seal of the confessional.
Wow James, Thanks. I really want to watch this movie again. It is la morality play with powerful Catholic themes.
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