from “Talks on the Sacraments”
Rev. Arthur Tonne, O.F.M.
June 22, 1947
Confession & the Anglican
Rev. Lambert Brockman, O.F.M.
Very Rev. Romuald Mollaun, O.F.M., S.T.D.
Rev. Louis S. Hauber, S.T.D.
Most Rev. George J. Donnelly, S.T.D.
Bishop of Leavenworth
Bishop Curtis of Wilmington, Delaware, was one of the most illustrious American
converts to the Church. In an address on how he became a Catholic he
started with the blunt statement: “Confession made a Catholic of me.”
When he was pastor of a prominent Anglican parish in New York City his bishop
came to officiate at some solemn ceremony. The afternoon before the
solemnity Reverend Curtis requested his bishop to hear his confession. The
latter put him off. In the evening the penitent repeated his request but
the bishop told him to wait until morning. Next morning the pastor again
expressed his desire to go to confession. The bishop objected: “Reverend
Curtis, why do you want to go to confession anyway? It is all right for
the laity who desire it, but we of the clergy should be able to do without it.”
Curtis was not satisfied. He felt the need of telling his sins and having
them forgiven. He found his way to St. Mary’s Catholic Seminary where he
begged the rector to hear his confession. That good priest, gracious and
smiling, explained to Curtis that his Anglican bishop was right in refusing to
hear his confession, because he had no power to forgive sins. This
statement startled Reverend Curtis, so the rector went on to explain that
Anglican orders were no orders. They were invalid. Neither an
Anglican bishop nor and Anglican priest could forgive sin.
This set Curtis thinking. He studied, he thought, he prayed. He led a
Christ-like life. Soon he realized that the only sin-forgiving Church was
the Catholic Church. He became a Catholic, a priest, and later an