August 20, 2011 • 10:04 am

From the freethinker Magazine, we find that 200 portable, open-air confessionals have been set up in Madrid’s Retiro Park in honor of the Pope’s visit. I wonder if they’ll be used during the abortion holiday, when the Pope has granted a week of easy absolution for that mortal sin.

As the article documents, many Spanish are angry because the Pope’s visit will cost around 70 million dollars, most of it footed by pilgrims or Spanish businesses. But think how many lives that money could save if spent wisely in, say, Africa.  And there will be other costs, too:

But critics are calling the claims ridiculous. Father Rodríguez [a Spanish priest who works among the poor] and others who signed the 10-page petition say the costs are always fuzzy when the Pope swans to town. They suspect that the cost of extra security, of collecting trash and of stress on health systems will add up to millions for taxpayers. For one thing, the pilgrims have been granted an 80 percent discount on public transportation, which some find particularly galling because subway fares just went up by 50 percent.

There are also reports that Spain is blocking public access to social media sites that could be used to plan counter-Pope demonstrations.

39 thoughts on “Port-a-confessionals

      1. yeah, and so now on a decent computer I see he’s got a shirt on.
        Not shirtless. And not a priest. Got it.

    1. Oh how lovely. They do actually expect people to kneel. Chalk one more up in the “even more pompous that I was previously aware” category.

    2. Yeah. Based on the photo on the site, not only one side kneeling the other sitting, the cover also differs, the priest side fully covered, the sinners alfresco ..

      Yeah, subtly we are shown that men (and even more women) are not created equal … the higher caste should be protected, both from the elements and litigations.

      Can they convert the porta-thingies into actual porta-loos afterward? that will be useful.

      1. have you looked at the chairs the priests sit on?

        Priests are so full of shit, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if there was already a hole in that chair.

      2. Well, to be fair, the priest presumably sits there for a couple of hours, while each penitent kneels for maybe five minutes. I guess the kneeling is meant to indicate humility or something; remember, you’re supposed to be begging God for forgiveness.

        Does anybody really think this whole charade would make more sense if the penitent had a comfy chair to sit on?

        1. Not the comfy chair! Anything but the comfy chair!

          Wait — what’s that? Soft pillows? You’re not going to poke me wi —



  1. Here’s an interesting legal question: if some passerby overhears a crime being confessed and reports it to the police, is that evidence admissable in court? Is there any expectation of privacy in an outdoor confessional without walls? Or does the mere presence of a priest create a legal Cone of Silence? This could be a key plot point in an upcoming episode of Law & Order: Madrid.

    1. I don’t know about Spain, but I’m pretty sure that the priest-pennitant privilege isn’t as legally protected as most seem to think. It’s certainly not as privileged as client-attourney, and probably not as protected as spousal privilege.

      I am, of course, not a lawyer, even though I might play one from time to time on Teh Innertubes.


    2. I’m not a lawyer yet, but this sounds like hearsay. (…at least in the US court system) You couldn’t testify about what you heard unless somehow the penitent got into a shouting match with the priest (unlikely?).

      You may be able to make an anonymous tip to the police, however.

  2. Somebody conceived of those things.
    Somebody else designed them.
    Somebody else manufactured them.

    What were they thinking, these people?

    1. The ones who conceived of them were almost certainly on some sort of a power trip.

      The design and manufacturing teams were probably thinking, “another day, another dollar,” and glad that some fool with more money than sense was happy to pay them decent wages for work that didn’t involve cleaning latrines. I doubt the lunacy of it all registered much on their consciousnesses.


  3. At least children will be able to confess in (relative) safety there.

    Is there a special one – scarlet, perhaps – for women who want to confess an abortion?

  4. Should clarify, the ‘internet blocking’ is occurring (well, if it’s actually occurring) libraries and schools where they control the computers. As far as I know they have not blocked (would be very difficult on an ad hoc basis like this) general access to sites.

    1. makes me wonder how much of the internet infrastructure (including major routers) the government there has access to.

      if they have access to the primary routers controlling traffic in and out of the country, it isn’t that hard to control traffic.

      Our own IT tech companies made that possible. Especially Cisco. And they sold that tech to places like China over a decade ago.

      i do wonder how much longer the internet will remain relatively uncensored and controlled in the Western world as well.

      not much longer, I would guess.

  5. “There are also reports that Spain is blocking public access to social media sites that could be used to plan counter-Pope demonstrations.”

    Sounds mighty Christian of them.

  6. ‘There are also reports that Spain is blocking public access to social media sites that could be used to plan counter-Pope demonstrations.’

    How thoughtful.

    Spain is turning itself back into a fascist state this week to make the Pope feel more at home during his visit.

    And with the catholic church’s history of propping up Franco’s dictatorship for decades, the pope must be overcome with feelings of nostalgia this weekend.

    Talk about adding insult to injury for secular Spaniards, however.

  7. If I could afford to do so, I’d travel to any country where the Don Papa was escaping the uncertain sanctuary of his tin-pot palace-country, in order to arrest the thug on multiple charges of chronic crimes against humanity.

  8. I’m thinking Port-a-Pope.

    Speaking of the congregation [yes, this will be mostly OT], no doubt web posts are coming up on the sociological research that claims less educated Americans are turning their backs on religion (or at least the white working class).

    US church attendance is decreasing “in the 2000s” in certain groups. It isn’t for a good reason, and it seems to fly in the face of Paul’s theories on religiosity as a product of social insecurity, but there it is:

    “Relying on nationally representative data from the General Social Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth, the study finds that moderately educated whites—those who have a high school degree but who did not graduate from a 4-year college—attended religious services in the 1970s at about the same rate as the most educated whites—those who at a minimum graduated from a 4-year college—but they attended at much lower frequencies in the 2000s.”

    It does look on the aged 25-44 group, so it may be a generational effect that overpower the basic Paul theory. Then we would expect the Silent generation to push those numbers further.

    1. Beware of any survey that talks about how much Americans go to church. More Americans will say yes to that question than our churches could hold. A better survey asks what the participant did on a given Sunday, and that shows that Americans are about at the level of Europeans when it comes to church attendance.

      So when I see 51% of people attend church for any under 65 population, as this survey contends, I smell a shoddy survey.

  9. Their poor(er) cousins are exhibiting a characteristic which the “sophisticated theologian” despises: biblical literalism. Worse still, it’s the typical “the bible means whatever I want it to” form of literalism (by far the dominant form):


    “Wealth is a sign of god’s favor” – indeed – that’s a bit old; the catlick church was preaching that since at least 300-something AD.

  10. “For one thing, the pilgrims have been granted an 80 percent discount on public transportation”

    I can think of no examples in my experience that tourists to an event were given a major cut on public transport. Now, I’m in the US, and that would likely cause a lawsuit here. But really, these aren’t pilgrims, they’re tourists. If the World Cup is in Madrid, do they give spectators a discount? Another example of the privilege of religion.

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