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Confession Is Good for the Soul -- Even for Politicians

Updated on December 8, 2017
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU in 1964. Worked in NYC for 2 years in public relations then as reporter and editor before retiring from The Hour newspaper.

Catholic Priest Hears Confession

St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT

St. Mary's Church, Norwalk, Connecticut
St. Mary's Church, Norwalk, Connecticut

Bless me, father, for I have sinned.

For Roman Catholics, these are familiar words; they are the words used by supplicants to begin reeling off a laundry list of venial sins -- and maybe a few mortal sins -- to their parish priest as a prelude to penance and, it is hoped, absolution and Holy Communion.

Not all religions have formal confessionals, but people of all faiths agree with the old proverb, "Confession is good for the soul."

Only the most arrogant would disagree with the proposition that we are all sinners.

Catholics have enjoyed the benefits of the confessional for centuries. Now, I think, it's time for others to benefit.

Few of us would ever consider confessing our sins to anyone but our creator, or at least to our confessor, a priest.

It's not easy for anyone to admit that he or she has come up short of our own expectations. Humbling oneself to anyone, even our creator, takes courage. Few know the humiliation of public confession.

A Lesson in Humility

President Clinton's recent televised confession of one of his sins to the entire world -- in a major, televised speech viewed by millions of fellow sinners -- perhaps could serve as a lesson in humility.

Maybe we should look into our own souls and do some hard thinking about our transgressions.

If we find sin, as we surely will, would we not owe it to the world to declare them openly? After all, if we've been sinful, if we've done things we are ashamed of, wouldn't it be disingenuous of us to cover it up rather than to tell the truth about it?

Certainly, President Clinton should go beyond merely owning up to his transgressions; wouldn't it be appropriate for him to mete out punishment to himself? Maybe get a divorce? Resign from the presidency? Jump off a cliff?

Full And Open Confession?

In fact, wouldn't it be a good idea for us, the electorate, to demand that candidates in the next election give a full and open confession of all their sins -- every indiscretion, every exercise of poor judgment -- as far back as the cradle? The only reason any candidate would refuse such disclosure would be to cover up his past deeds. How else can we know what our next president's character is really like?

As a matter of fact, why limit such disclosures to presidential candidates? Don't we equally need to know the true character of all our congressmen, our senators, governors, state legislators, mayors -- and, perhaps more importantly, our councilmen?

Our employers, too, would like to know of any illegal or immoral blots on our records. So would our lawyers, insurance representatives, doctors and, perhaps more than anyone, our neighbors!

Maybe I Made a Mistake

But wait! It just occurred to me that, maybe, I made a mistake! After all, we're all sinners, aren't we? Who would be left to run the city, the country, the world? On second thought, maybe we're not so bad after all. We do try, don't we?

Besides, public apologies don't seem to work. If you don't use just the right words, there's a good chance nobody will believe you mean it!

Forget what I said. I've just canceled my plans to confess to the world; anyway, I think I hear the Bells of St. Mary's.

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Sept. 26, 1998. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.

Is Confession Good for the Soul?

See results

'Automatic Confession' -- It's Hilarious!

Bing Crosby Sings 'The Bells of St. Mary's'

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    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      3 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm glad you liked it, Kathleen. I hope you had time to view the videos. The "Automatic Confession" is very funny ... and Bing Crosby is always worth listening to at any time.

    • profile image

      Kathleen 

      3 years ago

      Once again a thought provoking work Bill, first part had me a bit worried about you but then you changed gears and set the world aright once again! Tipping my hat sir (never liked curtsies) your pen has flair! Hugs honey!!

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for commenting, quicksand.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 

      7 years ago

      Mr Torpey, confession can, and has landed people in jail. Apart from that, the attitude "he too has done it, so why not me?" can be induced!

      Cheers!

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thank you Woody Marx. I appreciate your comment.

      Confession is, indeed, a wonderful thing, einron. It is my pleasure to be your fan.

    • einron profile image

      einron 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Confession is definitely good for the soul. When you do something wrong, you will know it yourself and it will bother you. When you confess your wrong doing, you clear your mind, are sorry and forgiven. Isn't this a wonderful thing?

      Please read my hub "Lifting Up Hands in Worship and Prayer." It would be nice to have you as a fan.

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Right on William! Well spoken.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You deserve all the best, compu-smart.

      I appreciate your comment, glassvisage. Honesty and truth are worthy goals for anyone.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 

      10 years ago from Northern California

      I'm not of any particular faith, but I do believe greatly in the power of honesty and revealing the truth, whether I am asked or feel the need to epxress my feelings or emotions... it seems this runs in line with your confession...

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      Woohoo I am freee!!

      Thankyou!! lol:D

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm very glad you found this column relevant to your life, compu-smart. As the headline states, confession "is good for the soul." I don't go to church anymore, compu-smart, but I was brought up in Parochial school with the good Sisters of Charity at St. Peter's Grammar School in Yonkers, N.Y. In my opinion, when you confess your sins you acknowledge the wrongdoing that all of us experience. Your debt is cleared, I think, the moment you sincerely acknowledge that. If you have not received absolution elsewhere, compu-smart, I hereby absolve you of all your sins (up to now) through the power given to me by HubPages. You may consider yourself no longer a sinner.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      William,

      I have to confess!..You have written another great article which was a subject of conversation mentioned just yesterday!!

      I was actually asked if i had ever confessed my sins and i said never! but i do good deeds everyday because I'm good now and I'm compensating for my sins this way!!

      I don't know when my debt will be cleared! and don't know if i would still need to confess, even if i don't believe!!

      Interesting one and a subject that always has me thinking!

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      There is a lot of religious commentary on HubPages, ColdWarBaby, but this hub is primarily political commentary that uses religious metaphor to make the point. There are some hubbers who write often about religion, but overall I'd say that, percentagewise, it's not significant.

    • profile image

      ColdWarBaby 

      10 years ago

      Is it just me or is there a lot of religious commentary on HubPages?

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, MoneyMatters, and thank you, Bob. I'm glad you like it.

    • profile image

      Bob 

      10 years ago

      Good one , Bill

    • MoneyMatters profile image

      C. J. 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Interesting....great writing!

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