[The Bishop of Carlisle, J. W. Diggle, had stated elsewhere that “Of course, if we desire the absolution of priests, we must be prepared to pay for it, for priestly absolution is the monopoly of priests,” and later explained that he had, on occasions, given to “poor ignorant people weeping for indulgences”.]
THE Bishop of Carlisle’s unfortunate statement to the effect that Roman Catholics are charged a fee for absolution still provides material for correspondence in the columns of the Tablet. Its current issue contains an amusing letter from Fr. Bernard Vaughan, S.J., who had been informed by a lady that her maids always had to pay, and that one of them, being without the necessary money, could not go to confession. Fr. Vaughan told the lady of a similar case that had come within his experience. The housemaid of a certain kind-hearted lady used to get from her every Saturday sixpence to pay for her weekly absolution. At Christmas-time, absolution being more expensive at that season, she extracted from her mistress half-a-crown. After the maid’s departure from her service in order “to better herself”, the mistress discovered that the money supposed to go into the “confessional box” actually went, as Fr. Vaughan puts it, “into the box called ‘the ticket box’ of a music-hall, where she used to spend her Saturday evenings out with her young man”. The Bishop of Carlisle is not alone in good-heartedness and credulity. Perhaps he will learn from the stories of these amiable ladies to look a little more closely into the genuineness of the appeals that are made to his good-nature.
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