I do not think it happens too often, but in the Catholic Church, the priests have the power to withhold your absolution when confessing a sin. They can grant the absolution when the sinner is truly repent, the idea is not to fall into a sin-confess-sin again routine.
Absolution Withheld is a back-story to Treasure Hunt as it explains how The Falcon ended up renting a pad in England.
This excerpt takes place in the early 90’s. Alexander Beck, The Falcon, is operating in London. Fate should see him to end up knelt outside a confessional booth telling his secrets to a former high-school body turned priest.
The thief known as Falcon had been sitting inconspicuously in the second row pew when he saw his old friend Daniel Weiss dressed in the traditional black cassock worn by Roman Catholic priests. The man of God walked purposefully towards the confessional, opened the centered front door of the booth and disappeared inside. What is he doing here?, wondered Alexander Beck, a.k.a. the Falcon, his thoughts suddenly swept away by the sea of memories triggered by the chance sighting of a mere old school chum. He patiently waited in line to take his turn at the confessional. At last, he entered and knelt.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” he began with the prayer learned many years before.
The wooden window slid open, the priest’s profile visible through the multiple small square holes.
“Tell me, my son.” The voice was soft, benevolent and the London accent unmistakable.
Alexander lost his voice after that initial exchange. He had come to the church to do a job, not to practice confession of his sins, much less seek absolution. Now he felt his past catching up with him, and quite a past it was for a twenty-three-year-old man. Debating what to tell, what to keep secret, he found himself barely able to mumble. It had not been by chance that he took that particular confessional, the third on the row of five positioned on the right side of the ample nave. Perhaps it was divine intervention that, while trying to pry from beneath the booth something he had hidden only the night before, he had run into a man he used to know, a man who now happened to be a part of the Church. After a second’s hesitation, he sighed deeply as he made up his mind.
“I am a sinner,” his head down, “I steal from people.”
“To steal is a grave sin, my son. Why do you do it?”
“Because I’m very good at it,” he stated in an even voice.
End of Excerpt
The story is available through the Amazon Short Program, reasonably priced at US$0.49, you can download it HERE!