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
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 illustrious bishop.