Friday, March 16, 2007

21st Century Again: Are Catholics Confessing in Greater Numbers Again?

The National Catholic Register's Tim Drake, in St Joseph, MN, has some thoughts on the status of the Sacrament of Confession in the 21st Century:

• In the Chicago Archdiocese, St. Mary’s Church in Lake Forest, Ill., offered “24 Hours of Grace” Feb. 23-24, during which penitents could avail themselves of the sacrament. When the program was first offered last year, 70 priests heard confessions and more than 350 people received the sacrament.

• In the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo., Capuchin friars continue to offer the sacrament at a storefront called The Catholic Center in the Citadel Mall. More than 6,600 persons have visited the center for the sacrament since its opening in November 2001. The numbers have grown each year, starting with 519 the first year and growing to more than 1,534 last year.

• In recent months, no less than three bishops have written pastoral letters on the subject of confession, placing a new emphasis on the Church’s most underutilized sacrament.
There’s also been a lot of abuse of the sacrament, such as illegitimate use of general absolution under normal circumstances.

Some bishops, though, such as New Ulm, Minn., Bishop John Nienstedt, have been re-educating priests and faithful. General absolution is a topic Bishop Nienstedt has visited at least twice in recent years in his monthly newspaper columns.
“Despite the fact that the repeated use of general absolution was never approved as being valid by the Church Universal and never officially sanctioned by my predecessors, it took on a life of its own,” Bishop Niendstedt wrote. “The misuse of the rite has led to confusion about the sacramental nature of grace, a general denial of the seriousness of sin, a lessening of the importance of the priesthood and a loss of countless opportunities for spiritual growth. In my humble opinion, these results are the work of the Evil One.” Read it All Here

What's it like at your parish?

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