How Our Local Church's Priest Made Me An Atheist
Bless Me, Father, I Have Sinned: My Striptease of the Soul
November 1961. It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I am eleven. At the appointed time, I enter the half-lit confessional, kneel on the prie-dieu, and fold my hands on the sloping shelf beneath the sliding screen.
Above my head, a crucifix: his body nailed to the cross, a loincloth draped across him. I cast my eyes down. I must not notice his body and think only about his agony for the sins of mankind, which include my sins. The screen pulls back.
The Latin incantation asks Jesus’ mercy upon my soul. I make the sign of the cross and whisper the words I have memorized: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been four weeks since my last confession. These are my sins.”