At the retreat center I went to in September, there is a confessional in a separate room on the way to the chapel. The priest goes in first and sits behind the screen.
The confessee goes in separately and sits in the front section.
Here is the screen he sits in front of. It means that his identity is obscured. This is supposed to mean that he can speak freely, without fear of judgment.
I was amazed at the difference in the two sections. The area for the priest is three-quarters the size of the confessee. The priest’s chair is large and comfortable. The other chair is small and hard. The priest’s area is filled with light. The other area is dark and depressing.
It seems like the person who needs the light the most would be the person who is confessing. It seems to me that jamming him into a tiny, dark, cramped area will only add to his distress. He is there to be made to feel better. He is there to have his sins forgiven.
Now, the point is that all of our sins are already forgiven. Priests don’t forgive sins. Jesus does that. Jesus did that on the cross. The priest just reminds you of that. Sometimes they get that part mixed up.
This is a painting that is visible to both people. I don’t know the story behind it.