I popped into the newsagents to get some chocolate and stood behind a priest. He was saying to the shopkeeper how he needed somebody to help him whilst he repaired one of the windows that vandals had recently smashed.
Being an atheist, yet appreciative of the value of buildings looking in good repair, I interrupted and said I’d be glad to help.
I followed him to his church, and he showed me to the confessional box.
He wanted me to take confessions whilst he worked on the window. I protested and said I thought he meant help physically repair the window.
He was very apologetic, but said that he was a fully trained glazier and wanted to do the job on his own, as it was a specific skill and quite risky, whereas taking confessions needed no skill-set and besides, all the penances were written up on the wall inside.
So, I thought, “Why not?” and sat apprehensively in the confessional booth.
It wasn’t long before I had my first customer.
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” came the voice. “I have recently had impure thoughts about my wife’s sister.”
I studied the list, carefully looking up and down it until I found ‘impure thoughts’, and read what it said out loud, “That’s three Hail Mary’s my son.”
To my surprise and relief, it worked, the first customer left a happy man.
Next customer hit me with a “Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I recently stole a man’s wallet.”
Again I carefully scanned the list and found ‘theft of money’, and like a professional barked out, “That’s two Hail Mary’s and one Lord’s Prayer my son.”
I was getting good at this and confidently carried on for the next hour or so, until a customer said, “Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I recently got oral sex from a young boy.”
I scanned the list up and down and couldn’t find anything about oral sex with young boys. I checked it again and again. Nothing was written about it at all. So, I sneaked out of the confessional box and called up to the priest who was working on the window, “What do you give for oral sex with a young boy?”
He instantly replied, “A couple of packets of crisps and a can of coke usually does the trick.”