The priest had been in his new parish for 18 months and already he was fed up with the number of people coming to him in confession and talking about their affairs. Eventually he told his congregation to use another word. “From now on, I would like you to say you have fallen, instead of telling me you’re having an affair,” he said.

The new word worked well. Then it came to the priest’s summer holiday and another priest came to stand in for a month but was not made aware of the new arrangement. After 2 weeks of listening to the daily Confessions, he was astonished at what he was being told so he went to see the Lord Mayor.

“I’m very pleased with the local people’s morals,” he said. “They have very little to confess to me. I think something should be done about the state of the pavements, though, because people seem to be falling down all the time.”

The Lord Mayor smiled, knowingly. “Oh, there’s nothing to worry about there, Father,” he replied.

“Well I think there is,” persisted the priest. “Your wife has fallen 3 times this week.”

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