Why would anyone want to confess to a monk or a nun rather than a member of the Clergy?
Because, believe it or not, there are people with incredible spiritual discernment who are not ordained.
In other words, why send people with incredible spiritual discernment to Seminary for 3-7 years to obtain a M. Div. Degree required for all male Clergy?
For example: many times the women at a Women's Monastery will confess to the Abbess; part of this is due to the fundamental relationship between monk and master (which is also seen in many monasteries where the monks confess to their Abbot); part of this is due to the incredible spiritual maturity that is often exhibited by the Abbesses. The abbess will hear the confessions and provide spiritual support and direction, and when the priest (who serves the monastery) comes by, he will ask the abbess for the names of people that he needs to read the prayers over. He will then see each of them and complete the sacrament.
I think of Confession as a one celebrant process. What you describe sounds like intake (Step 1) and actual absolution (Step 2). Is there precedence for a 2-Step Confession process?
With the Male monks, sometimes the Abbot is a priest, and so they can go to him for guidance, confession, and he will read the prayers. But often times the Abbot is not a priest, yet has the gift of discernment, and will hear confessions in a similar manner to the Abbesses.
There were examples in the Epistles of many who had gifts of "discernment" only to wind up being frauds.
This doesn't even include the Elders who are not Abbots or Abbesses who are gifted and not ordained, who have still been blessed to hear confessions.
Who makes this call? If such Elders were Blessed by Greek Metropolitans and transferred to the Elder Ephraim Monasteries, how would the laity know the difference? Is that a mystery that they have to accept? What if I question it?
The common thread amongst all these stories: permission from a clergyman has been granted beforehand! In the case of an Abbot or Abbess, it is the Bishop who enthroned them that grants such permission.
Where is the Bishop from: US, Greece, Serbia or elsewhere? Is there Apostolic Succession for Elders, Abbots and Abbesses?