I have never watched an episode of "Crossing Jordan" before this evening. I probably won't watch it again. It was very disappointing.
I returned to the rectory today and my associate pastor informed me that the television wasn't working. With little knowledge of how it works, I simply turned off the digital cable box and turned it back on, hoping that would fix things. It eventually did and the show that was just beginning was "Crossing Jordan." Since a priest was featured in the opening scene, I was lured in to see how the Church would be portrayed. For those who were blessed to miss the episode, here is a synopsis. A dead woman is found outside of a Boston Catholic Church. The associate pastor had discovered her. The lead female character of the show (sorry, I don't know her name, but she is a detective) knows the associate pastor, a former high school boyfriend. She asks him if he knows any reason why the woman, a parishioner, might have been killed. He says he cannot respond to the question due to the sacramental seal of confession.
I was impressed for most of the show that the sacramental seal was kept and was not totally mocked, though it was certainly not well understood. There was some scandal in the show, because it seemed a priest may have been involved in an adulterous affair with the dead parishioner. The lead female detective suspected the young priest, her old boyfriend. The twist came at the end, when the pastor's drug overdose turned suspicion toward him, suspicion which turned out to be valid. However, my main disappointment came with the very end. The whole adultery, murder, and suicide plot had been developed and resolved. And what did they do in the final moments of the episode? The young associate re-enters the scene, this time not in collar, and drops the bombshell that the "collar feels like a noose now" and gives strong hints that he may be leaving the priesthood. It seems he had been the confessor for both the dead woman and his pastor, knowing their sin together, but due to the seal, willing to allow suspicion to rest on him. Why did they have to take that route? The young priest's future in ministry, or lack thereof, had no bearing on the show's plot whatsoever. Why couldn't they just leave well enough alone and end the show with crime scene resolved? Aaagggghhhhh!
And by the way, if you saw the show, the knowledge we gained at the end of the episode, makes me think back to other parts of the episode and wonder whether the young priest was really keeping the sacramental seal to begin with. If he served as the confessor for both the woman and his pastor, why did he then go out to dinner with the woman in question? It certainly must have been in connection with the confession. Did he speak of what he heard from his pastor? Did he discuss what the woman had told him in the confessional? Even that is breaking the seal, albeit with the very person who confessed, but the seal is that sacred. And the uncollared young priest, when both penitents are now dead, does speak of their confessions. That's a no, no, folks! The seal is sacred and totally inviolable and cannot be revealed even if the offenders are dead. And one final gripe, the young priest reveals that after hearing the woman's confession regarding her adultery, he told her that she had to tell her husband. Now, that is certainly contrary to the formation I received regarding the Sacrament of Confession. My formators told my class that one could not reasonably assign a penance that requires the penitent to reveal his sin. With penances like that, what would be the point of the seal anyway?