OF THOSE who cannot quiet their own conscience there is at all times an immense number, and the pity of it is that so many of them are unaware of the remedy that the Church offers and its ministers should offer them. In war time, when death is close at hand, unquiet consciences call aloud for help. Men’s thoughts turn to the ministers of religion, and they are ready to confess their wrong-doings and to make an act of contrition. But the Chaplain-General, with his sic volo, sic iubeo, blocks the way. There is to be no confessing nor preaching of confession in the chapels within the sphere of his jurisdiction, though it is the duty of every chaplain to invite the men to come to him, or to bid them go to “some other discreet and learned minister”, to obtain the benefit of absolution. What wonder is it if letters from the Front tell us how men have availed themselves of the ministry of Roman priests? We have before us several such letters, relating how, in a time of special danger, a Roman Catholic chaplain ministered consolations to men not of his own communion who eagerly sought his help. Those men, when they return home, will reflect how the Chaplain-General’s orders hindered their recourse to a remedy which they saw so readily provided for their Roman comrades.
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