Ignoring Pope John Paul II’s Reconciliatio et paenitentia, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor says there’s been no authoritative reflection on Confession

According to The Tablet, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor has claimed in a letter to John Cornwall that there has been no authoritative reflection on Confession, revealing his surprising ignorance of Blessed John Paul II’s Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliatio et paenitentia, published in 1984.

The Tablet reports:

‘Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor believes that Confession is in need of significant reform and should be discussed at a special synod on the sacraments.

The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster has called for “proper reform to the sacrament” and says Confession has not received “serious reflection by any authoritative people within the Church” despite declining numbers of Catholics making use of the sacrament.

The remarks come in a private letter to the Cambridge academic and author John Cornwell, who is campaigning for a ban on childhood Confession and who sent the cardinal a new book he has written on the sacrament.

Mr Cornwell, who says he was the victim as a boy of sexual solicitation by a confessor, has written an open letter to Pope Francis calling for a ban.

A spokeswoman for the cardinal stressed that he was not endorsing an end to childhood Confession, had not read Mr Cornwell’s book when he replied to the author, and in no way associated himself with the letter to the Pope.

The spokeswoman told The Tablet the issue should be discussed by bishops from around the world. “The cardinal believes that Confession could be considered as a topic for an Episcopal Synod on Sacramental Life. [He] thinks there needs to be much serious reflection in the Church as to why people are not going to Confession and what would encourage them to return to the Sacrament.”

Protect the Pope comment:  Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s groundless assertion that there has been no ‘serious reflection by any authoritative people within the Church is astounding, considering that  Reconciliatio et paenitentia represents the serious reflection of Blessed John Paul II and bishops of the world when he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

Blessed John Paul II and the Synod of Bishops examined the decline in the sacrament of confession and also highlighted some of the causes. Here are some excerpts:

‘It is good to renew and reaffirm this faith at a moment when it might be weakening, losing something of its completeness or entering into an area of shadow and silence, threatened as it is by the negative elements of the above-mentioned crisis. For the sacrament of confession is indeed being undermined, on the one hand by the obscuring of the mortal and religious conscience, the lessening of a sense of sin, the distortion of the concept of repentance and the lack of effort to live an authentically Christian life. And on the other hand, it is being undermined by the sometimes widespread idea that one can obtain forgiveness directly from God, even in a habitual way, without approaching the sacrament of reconciliation. A further negative influence is the routine of a sacramental practice sometimes lacking in fervor and real spontaneity, deriving perhaps from a mistaken and distorted idea of the effects of the sacrament.’

The Loss of the Sense of Sin

18. Over the course of generations, the Christian mind has gained from the Gospel as it is read in the ecclesial community a fine sensitivity and an acute perception of the seeds of death contained in sin, as well as a sensitivity and an acuteness of perception for identifying them in the thousand guises under which sin shows itself. This is what is commonly called the sense of sin.

This sense is rooted in man’s moral conscience and is as it were its thermometer. It is linked to the sense of God, since it derives from man’s conscious relationship with God as his Creator, Lord and Father. Hence, just as it is impossible to eradicate completely the sense of God or to silence the conscience completely, so the sense of sin is never completely eliminated.

Nevertheless, it happens not infrequently in history, for more or less lengthy periods and under the influence of many different factors, that the moral conscience of many people becomes seriously clouded. “Have we the right idea of conscience?”-I asked two years ago in an address to the faithful” Is it not true that modern man is threatened by an eclipse of conscience? By a deformation of conscience? By a numbness or ‘deadening’ of conscience,”(97) Too many signs indicate that such an eclipse exists in our time. This is all the more disturbing in that conscience, defined by the council as “the most secret core and sanctuary of a man,”(98) is “strictly related to human freedom…. For this reason conscience, to a great extent, constitutes the basis of man’s interior dignity and, at the same time, of his relationship to God.”(99) It is inevitable therefore that in this situation there is an obscuring also of the sense of sin, which is closely connected with the moral conscience, the search for truth and the desire to make a responsible use of freedom. When the conscience is weakened the sense of God is also obscured, and as a result, with the loss of this decisive inner point of reference, the sense of sin is lost. This explains why my predecessor Pius XI, one day declared, in words that have almost become proverbial, that “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.”(100)

Why has this happened in our time. A glance at certain aspects of contemporary culture can help us to understand the progressive weakening of the sense of sin, precisely because of the crisis of conscience and crisis of the sense of God already mentioned.

“Secularism” is by nature and definition a movement of ideas and behavior which advocates a humanism totally without God, completely centered upon the cult of action and production and caught up in the heady enthusiasm of consumerism and pleasure seeking, unconcerned with the danger of “losing one’s soul.” This secularism cannot but undermine the sense of sin. At the very most, sin will be reduced to what offends man. But it is precisely here that we are faced with the bitter experience which I already alluded to in my first encyclical namely, that man can build a world without God, but this world will end by turning against him.”(101) In fact, God is the origin and the supreme end of man, and man carries in himself a divine seed.(102) Hence it is the reality of God that reveals and illustrates the mystery of man. It is therefore vain to hope that there will take root a sense of sin against man and against human values, if there is no sense of offense against God, namely the true sense of sin.

Another reason for the disappearance of the sense of sin in contemporary society is to be found in the errors made in evaluating certain findings of the human sciences. Thus on the basis of certain affirmations of psychology, concern to avoid creating feelings of guilt or to place limits on freedom leads to a refusal ever to admit any shortcoming. Through an undue extrapolation of the criteria of the science of sociology, it finally happens-as I have already said-that all failings are blamed upon society, and the individual is declared innocent of them. Again, a certain cultural anthropology so emphasizes the undeniable environmental and historical conditioning and influences which act upon man, that it reduces his responsibility to the point of not acknowledging his ability to perform truly human acts and therefore his ability to sin.

The sense of sin also easily declines as a result of a system of ethics deriving from a certain historical relativism. This may take the form of an ethical system which relativizes the moral norm, denying its absolute and unconditional value, and as a consequence denying that there can be intrinsically illicit acts independent of the circumstances in which they are performed by the subject. Herein lies a real “overthrowing and downfall of moral values,” and “the problem is not so much one of ignorance of Christian ethics,” but ignorance “rather of the meaning, foundations and criteria of the moral attitude.”(103) Another effect of this ethical turning upside down is always such an attenuation of the notion of sin as almost to reach the point of saying that sin does exist, but no one knows who commits it.

Finally the sense of sin disappears when-as can happen in the education of youth, in the mass media and even in education within the family-it is wrongly identified with a morbid feeling of guilt or with the mere transgression of legal norms and precepts.

The loss of the sense of sin is thus a form or consequence of the denial of God: not only in the form of atheism but also in the form of secularism. If sin is the breaking, off of one’s filial relationship to God in order to situate one’s life outside of obedience to him, then to sin is not merely to deny God. To sin is also to live as if he did not exist, to eliminate him from one’s daily life. A model of society which is mutilated or distorted in one sense or another, as is often encouraged by the mass media, greatly favors the gradual loss of the sense of sin. In such a situation the obscuring or weakening of the sense of sin comes from several sources: from a rejection of any reference to the transcendent in the name of the individual’s aspiration to personal independence; from acceptance of ethical models imposed by general consensus and behavior, even when condemned by the individual conscience; from the tragic social and economic conditions that oppress a great part of humanity, causing a tendency to see errors and faults only in the context of society; finally and especially, from the obscuring of the notion of God’s fatherhood and dominion over man’s life.

Even in the field of the thought and life of the church certain trends inevitably favor the decline of the sense of sin. For example, some are inclined to replace exaggerated attitudes of the past with other exaggerations: From seeing sin everywhere they pass to not recognizing it anywhere; from too much emphasis on the fear of eternal punishment they pass to preaching a love of God that excludes any punishment deserved by sin; from severity in trying to correct erroneous consciences they pass to a kind of respect for conscience which excludes the duty of telling the truth. And should it not be added that the confusion caused in the consciences of many of the faithful by differences of opinions and teachings in theology, preaching, catechesis and spiritual direction on serious and delicate questions of Christian morals ends by diminishing the true sense of sin almost to the point of eliminating it altogether? Nor can certain deficiencies in the practice of sacramental penance be overlooked. These include the tendency to obscure the ecclesial significance of sin and of conversion and to reduce them to merely personal matters; or vice versa, the tendency to nullify the personal value of good and evil and to consider only their community dimension. There also exists the danger, never totally eliminated, of routine ritualism that deprives the sacrament of its full significance and formative effectiveness.

The restoration of a proper sense of sin is the first way of facing the grave spiritual crisis looming over man today. But the sense of sin can only be restored through a clear reminder of the unchangeable principles of reason and faith which the moral teaching of the church has always upheld.

There are good grounds for hoping that a healthy sense of sin will once again flourish, especially in the Christian world and in the church. This will be aided by sound catechetics, illuminated by the biblical theology of the covenant, by an attentive listening and trustful openness to the magisterium of the church, which; never ceases to enlighten consciences, and by an ever more careful practice of the sacrament of penance.’

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/427/0/murphy-o-connor-wants-reforms-to-confession-to-address-decline

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_02121984_reconciliatio-et-paenitentia_en.html

 

48 comments to Ignoring Pope John Paul II’s Reconciliatio et paenitentia, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor says there’s been no authoritative reflection on Confession

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick,
    We need an urgent whip-round to buy a good golf-buggy…. find some decent golf links near Reading and an ASBO to ban a certain prelate from going within 50 yards of a microphone.
    Problem solved

    • Augustine

      “A spokeswoman for the cardinal stressed that he ……had not read Mr Cornwell’s book when he replied to the author.”

      No surprises there then.

      But he should have realised that Cornwell’s real talent is in creating publicity for his little pot boilers – and that Cornwell must have thought that Christmas had arrived early when he received his reply.

  • Augustine

    Cardinal Cormac has always had a tendency to “shoot from the hip”.

    But he is very unwise to take that old fraud Cornwell seriously.

    Cornwell made his reputation (such as it is) by being economical with the truth.

    • iggy o'donovan

      Augustine have you read Cornwells recent book on Confession . I have not seen it yet but have read two reviews – both very contrasting. He is particularly critical of the practice of confessing children I am told.

      • (X)MCCLXIII

        “He is particularly critical of the practice of confessing children I am told.” Yes, father, that’s what all the reports say, and what this blog post also says. Pay attention!

      • ConofChi

        John Cornwell had a free run on the BBC’s ‘Start The Week’ programme, Monday. Discussion chaired by Andrew Marr together with Vanessa Feltz,Susie Orbach and Turney Duff. Subject: ‘Confession’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vd5j5
        Wonder if BBC will receive a percentage of sales?

      • Augustine

        Father Iggy, like you I have only read reviews.

        From what I have read, it appears that he thinks he has already discovered why Pius X reduced the age of First Communion and First Confession – and then produces spurious arguments to justify this.

        I too am prejudiced – but in the opposite direction as I had a grandmother from Northern Ireland (not that that is particularly significant) who made her First Holy Communion in the pre-Pius X days. I was told that for the rest of her life, she only received Holy Communion a handful of times a year – even though she went to Mass every Sunday.

        The impression that I got was that she thought she had to be perfect before she could receive Holy Communion. As we know Pius X was trying to encourage frequent Communion and I think that his lowering of the age for First Communion and First Confession was an attempt to try to move the Church away from a neo-Jansenist influences.

        I suspect that the reason why he introduced First Holy Communion and First Confession from the early teens (as it had been before) was to avoid the impression puberty was associated with sin – and to avoid associating Confession exclusively with the Sixth Commandment.

        In other words – the precise opposite of Cornwell’s thesis, which seems to be inspired by an unfortunate experience he had with a pervert priest when he was in Cotton College (the Junior Seminary near Birmingham).

        But in one of his previous books (Seminary Boy) he shows that he was obsessed with certain bodily functions well before he went to Junior Seminary.

        For information – I grew up in the same area as John Cornwell and knew both the area and some of the people that he wrote about in the book. I can state categorically that “Seminary Boy” contains a number of “terminological inexactitudes” which undermined any confidence I may have otherwise had in the author.

        • iggy o'donovan

          Augustine i can identify exactly with what you say about your Granny rarely recieving Holy Communion though she was a regular church goer. My grandparents (indeed my father) were in the same position. They usually recieved Holy Communion on Trinity Sunday. This was to fulfil what they called their “Easter duty”. they seldom recieved at other times but would always hold the Blessed Sacrament with awesome regard.

  • Seán

    What of Trent? What of Vatican II? What of canon law? What of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)? Would these constitute “serious reflection by (any) authoritative people within the Church”? Perhaps the Cardinal would indicate his view, affirmative or not.

    • Lynda

      Exactly. Such an objectively evil lie. The Chirch’s Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium are replete with the importance of the sacrament of Confession. It is throughout the deposit of Faith. Has the Cardinal no sense of shame? I suspect he is referring to some modernistic undermining of the sacrament which could be touted by dissenters as authoritative.

  • Michael B Rooke

    ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS
    POPE JOHN PAUL II
    TO THE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES
    ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT

    23 September 1997

    2..The best catechist of Reconciliation is the priest who himself regularly has recourse to this sacrament. Priests who are dedicated to the ministry of reconciliation know that it is a demanding and often exhausting task, yet “one of the most beautiful and consoling”of the priest’s life (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 29). On the other hand, the faithful in a sense have a right to have scheduled times for Penance at their parish and to find their priests always ready to receive the person who comes looking for Confession.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1997/october/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19971023_ad-limina-galles_en.html

    See also

    http://gsearch.vatican.va/search?btnG=Search+on&site=default_collection&client=default_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&sort=date:D:L:d1&entsp=a__policy_documenti&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&ud=1&exclude_apps=1&filter=0&ulang=en&ip=151.227.111.113&access=p&entqr=3&entqrm=0&q=Reconciliatio+et+paenitentia+inmeta:language%3Den&dnavs=inmeta:language%3Den&start=20

  • Genty

    Poor old thing. He must really feel it now Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols is getting all the headlines. Who leaked this private letter?

    • katherine

      ..both cut from the same cloth and both a tragedy for the Church in England and Wales…..notice how Cardinal Elect Nichols is making all the right noises, which will sound good in Rome this coming weekend. There is plenty of spiritual poverty for you to be concerned with Cardinal Elect – take a look around you, but please dont shoot the messengers just because you dont like the message.

  • freboniusthe2

    Never mind CMO’C, are we all to endure another round of historical fiction similar to that as Hitler’s Pope?

  • Patrick Fahey

    How do we get such a generally poor bunch elected to such high office? Do we expect our new cardinal to be standing for a safe Labour seat at the next general election?

  • As this is the man who boasted to one of his colleagues that he had never picked up a theology textbook since leaving seminary and didn’t intend to, I am not in the least surprised that he is ignorant of papal teaching on all kinds of subjects.

  • Joseph Matthew

    John Cornwell? Is he not the non-historian who got Pius XII wrong from the cover onward?
    He has been generating a lot of publicity as always with his latest. Catholics loyal to tradition will ignore him. Ditto for the retired Cardinal.

    • John

      This is the same person. Incredibly he is a Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge and so tries to claim some academic credentials. I started reading his book Hitler’s Pope a few years ago and threw it away after about 30 pages. It was little more than a farrago of innuendos, unproven assertions. I decided I would not read anything by him again.

      Interesting that old Iggy O’Donovan seems to be positive towards him. Which says a lot about Iggy….

      • BJC

        John

        Agreed, it is completely incredible. The only thing I’ve read by him was “Breaking faith” which has to go down as one of the most stupid books of all time. Badly researched, full of his own prejudices and hang-ups, one wonders how such a dull mind could end up at Cambridge. I put it down to his ability to bs and for no one to check. He seems to think he’s some kind of an authority on Catholic beliefs but it’s obvious he’s never picked up a catechism in his life. Whole sections of Catholic beliefs are distorted and misrepresented and one has to wonder if it’s wilful dishonesty because no one can make that many basic errors without having a game plan. He makes much of the fact he went to junior seminary in the 1950′s but it’s very obvious he was sitting there with fingers in his ears and his nose in the air.

      • iggy o'donovan

        John I fail to understand why you speak of me in this rather rude way. I merely mentioned that I had not managed to procure Cornwells text but had read two contrasting reviews.In the meantime I have not expressed any opinion on his thesis but will do so when I have read the book.

  • I am reminded of Uriah Heep stroking his hands humbly when I hear many bishops and priests talk about the decline in Confession. Confessions were traditionally held after Saturday morning Mass. But suddenly there were more important things to do on a Saturday morning. You can of course have confessions half an hour before Mass on a Saturday evening. So those struggling with sin should not take up the time of the priest. But Cornwell does have a point about the new Reconciliation Room which takes the place of the orthodox two tier confessional box. Chidren are exposed. I suppose the excuse for keeping them is that children are discouraged from using them like everybody else. then of course I cannot make a private confession I am part of a community and we do have these services at Chrsitmas and Easter which are marked by a strange absence of the Community.

    • Augustine

      Reconciliation Rooms were never supposed to eliminate the availability of being able to go to confession behind a screen.

      In the parish where I live, the Parish Priest has reinstated a physical barrier between priest and penitent – in the form of a thick Perspex screen. On his side, there is a curtain which he draws back if the penitent wishes to speak face to face.

      But there is no possibility of any physical contact at any time.

      Furthermore, there are windows on both the door to the priest’s side and the door to the penitent’s side, so that parishioners can see inside the confessional. Both sides of the confessional are fully lit.

      So no dark boxes either.

  • CMOC seemed to think he was the only authority in the Church so his statement is probably a good reflection of his mind. After all……..HE never spoke authoritatively on Confession….. and we all know he is not doing so now, since he has no authority!

  • (X)MCCLXIII

    The most extraordinary point here is the revelation – to me at least – that Cornwell is a Cambridge don. Words almost fail me.

  • One reason that there is a drop in the numbers of people making use of the sacrament is how little priests make it available.

    Too often is it available for a 30min window on a single day.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I have always understood that Cardinal Cormac was a Universalist i.e. that everyone goes to heaven. So why bother with confession?

  • Nicolas Bellord at 3.15pm

    Methinks Cardinal Cormac is in for a surprise when he arrives a judgment seat!

  • ‘Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor believes that Confession is in need of significant reform…’

    What on earth does that mean?

  • peter

    I have mentioned many times that in my opinion the sacrament of confession is the greatest of the sacraments. Why is it in decline? In my opinion one of the major issues is that confession is usually discussed in terms of sin. We have to move away from confession and sin – and focus, as Benedict 16 continually reminded us, confession as a personal encounter with God’s mercy.

    In my opinion it is time for a new a significant reflection and possible reform of the Sacrament, unless we do so we risk losing something so beautiful. It is time to look again – John Paul’s letter is 30 years old and is not an easy read! Children going into a darkened box for their sins is not the way forward.
    I do think the good cardinal may have forgotten the work of the Cure d’Ars!

  • Lynda

    Most bishops and priests refuse to teach about sin, especially mortal sin. They make it clear that they do not “believe in” sin – they have rejected the Faith and adopted a New Age gobbledygook. It is highly doubtful that such priests or bishops actually confess their sins, and there are likely a great many bishops and priests in a constant state of mortal sin, with no intention to confess. I recall asking a fairly typical modernistic priest in a parish for confession, and he was flabbergasted that I would ask for such a thing.

    • peter

      Lynda
      who are the priests and bishops who have stated they do not believe in sin? I don’t know any priests who does not confess their sins to another priest – though I’m sure there must be some. However a priest who does not confess, should not be a confessor. peter

      • Lynda

        A majority of priests that I have ever come across, and ditto for anyone else I speak to on this. Many, many bishops refuse to teach the truth about sin, and never mention mortal sin, loss of salvation for unabsolved mortal sin. In fact, the vast majority never speak about personal sin, and the obligation of confession, prohibition of receiving Our Lord in a state of mortal sin. The vast majority of Catholics that go to Mass, receive Our Lord but do not go to confession. This is the norm in the West due to Catholics not being taught and instructed and lead in Faith and morals by priests, bishops, teachers (their parents don’t know either and so don’t pass basics of the Faith on). This has been the case for decades.

        • peter

          Yes i agree too few people go to confession – i think it is due to poor preaching and teaching about sin and mercy. we all sin – but we are forgiven. It seems to me confession is not just about eternal it is also about experiencing God’s mercy in the here and now.
          peter

        • Francis

          “A majority of priests that I have ever come across, and ditto for anyone else I speak to on this.”

          This is not my experience.

          I am a Catholic priest and I think I probably know quite a lot of other Catholic priests.

          • Lynda

            Useless if they only say so in private. If everything they do and say when they address the public suggests otherwise, that is the false message they give to people, and why the majority believe there is no need for them to go to confession.

          • In the early 70s at a retreat with the Dominicans in Cork we were encouraged to put anonymous questions in a box. I wrote “what is a mortal sin?” because even in those days it wasn’t made clear. The priest said “what a silly question!” I always regretted not speaking up and telling him it was I who asked it and called his bluff, but I was young and his answer was meant to intimidate:(

  • jaykay

    Peter: “We have to move away from confession and sin – and focus, as Benedict 16 continually reminded us, confession as a personal encounter with God’s mercy.”

    And why, exactly, is that mercy needed in the first place? Because of sin. There are plenty of opportunities to have a personal encounter with God in prayer, praise, thanksgiving etc. But confession, or “reconciliation” in the new fluffy terminology, is necessary specifically because of the fact that we have sinned. There’s no getting away from that, and talking of “significant reflection and possible reform” seems to me to be dodging around the fundamental issue of sin… or rather, the fact that some people seem to be uncomfortable with that issue.

    After all, it couldn’t be simpler, could it? You acknowledge your sins, beg God’s mercy and receive forgiveness. What’s to reform, significantly or otherwise?

  • peter

    jaykay

    yes i agree that many people are uncomfortable and embarrassed about the issue of sin. Sin, it seems to me, is what destroys our relationship with God and others; and confession is the way to reconcile with God through God’s mercy. The church well understands sin but Benedict and now Francis remind us that God forgives and forgives and forgives. Confession is a beautiful sacrament that has been misused by too many priests by over emphasising sin and not the mercy of God. Of course we are all sinners – but too few of us have been brought up with the knowledge that God forgives.

    Pope francis stated just the other day “When I go to confession, it’s for healing: healing the soul, healing the heart because of something that I did to make it unwell… I say to you, every time we go to confession, God embraces us.”

    Yes be aware of our sins but be mor aware of God’s forgiveness. That is what i mean by reflection and reform – a better understanding of the sacrament by us all. I think it easy to preach about the sacrament, and more preaching is needed – but start with God;s mercy rather than the sin of the individual. Confession should lead to a deeper spiritual life – if it doesn’t there is something wrong. This is why Benedict put the emphasis on mercy and a personal relationship with God rather than sin.

    You may find confession straight forward but many people do not – that is why i suggest that we need to look at the sacrament agin so that it is used more and more.
    peter

  • Lynda

    The sacrament will be availed of regularly by most – when Catholics are taught and instructed and led in the Faith. The Faith is very clear and simple, and very reasonable and understandable. Once, people know and are helped to accept God’s grace, they will return to confession and confess all their past sins (which they were misled to believe were not sins) and so gain the grace to begin living more morally, avoiding more and more mortal sins and reducing venial sins.

  • peter

    Lynda and jaykay

    The document below is a document that you might enjoy.
    All priests should go to confession. To all readers of this blog please go to confession and experience the mercy of God.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120309_penitenzieria-apostolica_en.html

    Peter

    • Lynda

      Confession is a most serious sacrament. It requires complete honesty and sincerity and a clear intention not to commit the sins again. It is not a feel good New Age therapy session. It takes effort, courage, and grace received through proper preparation and having already begged God’s forgiveness and promised not to offend Him Again.

  • jaykay

    “You may find confession straight forward but many people do not – that is why i suggest that we need to look at the sacrament agin so that it is used more and more.”

    Well, while I certainly agree with you, Peter, that there is definitely a need for it to be used more and more, nevertheless it basically IS pretty straightforward, and there is no need to complicate it further by tinkering around the edges. And it’s a bit of a jump, in my opinion, to posit that many don’t come to confession because they don’t find it “straightforward” or otherwise have trouble with it. Perhaps they’re not coming because they just don’t know about it? Because they never hear it preached about, or have never been encouraged to attend?

    But I honestly think that this tired old meme of “priests misusing the sacrament by preaching too much about sin..” really needs to be squashed once and for all. I mean, come on! As others have posted here, in what reality are we living if we think that this has been true over the past 50 years? And even back then, I wonder if it were ever really true to any great extent anyway? I’m 53, I remember the 60s well, and I certainly do not recall, either in Catholic school or at Mass, any priest over-emphasising sin at the expense of Mercy. Or indeed, even emphasising sin very much at all. Period.

    I would also have to say that the contention that “too few of us have been brought up with the knowledge that God forgives” doesn’t really gel with any experience I’ve been privy to over my decades of life, And, I suspect, the same goes for the majority here. If anything, the mercy aspect has constantly been put forward, but the “s” word is rarely mentioned.

  • Lynda

    Here is an example of how many disobedient priests treat those who attempt to receive the sacrament of Confession. Fr Iggy O’Donovan is mentioned in the piece, but he’s not the priest who failed to carry out the confession validly in this instance. I and many others I have spoken to have experienced this dismissive attitude towards sins on many occasions when we attempt to confess.
    http://thefraternityofstgenesius.blogspot.ie/2011/09/get-thee-to-confessional.html?m=1

    The experience is extremely common. The Bergin brothers mention in their interview too how priests would erroneously tell them their sins were not sins. If priests preached the truth about sin, confession, loss of salvation, we would not have an obvious situation where the vast majority that attend Mass (a minority of Catholics) receive Our Lord but never go to Confession. It is a long-time scandal of such massive proportions that is ignored as so many priests and bishops are responsible for it.

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