Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests promotes “General Absolution”. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

I saw a piece at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a request of the Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests to the USCCB’s Pres. Archbp. Kurtz.  The Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests have requested:

expanded opportunities

for sacramental confession and reconciliation

—  urge more access through full use of Vatican II rites [Which would mean use of the Extraordinary Form, as it was the Mass in use during Vatican II.]

Sounds pretty good, right?  After all, I’m the guy who is constantly shouting “GO TO CONFESSION!”, right?

But there is a problem in this, coming as it does from the Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests (which promotes the ordination of women and lay election of bishops).  NB that “full use” of “Vatican II” rites.  That is code for General Absolution.

Here’s what the Ass. argues (my emphases):

AUSCP requests expanded opportunities for sacramental confession and reconciliation. The Association has encouraged the Bishops of the United States to request an indult to allow full use of the Rite of Penance, including Rite 3 as part of the pastoral practice of the Church in the United States. Read the letter to USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, HERE. (A slightly adapted copy of this letter was sent to all bishops.) A document providing background and rationale for the request can be found HERE.

I say:

Lay people: Avoid General Absolution.  Just don’t go.

Fathers: If you are doing this knock it off.

Bishops: Put a stop to this now.

General Absolution (absolution without confession of all mortal sins), or “Form 3”, is to be given in cases of grave necessity, emergencies (e.g., airplane about to crash, earthquake traps people under rubble, listeners in a hospital ward, battle about to begin, etc.).

Canon 961 establishes that a grave necessity exists (outside of the clear case of danger of death) when…

“given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual’s confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of sacramental grace or of Holy Communion for a lengthy period of time.”

All those conditions would need to be present for general absolution to be given licitly.

Telling people to “come back next week” would NOT deprive them of sacramental grace for a “lengthy period of time,” which most manualists – and we like manuals – would say is a month or more.

Furthermore, the Motu proprio of 7 April 2002 Misericordia Dei, 5 clarifies that “judgment as to whether there exists the conditions required by canon 961 is [Note bene] not a matter for the confessor, but for the diocesan bishop who can determine cases of such necessity in light of the criteria agreed upon with other members of the Episcopal Conference.”

The local bishops lay down the conditions.  They may vary from place to place.

In Africa, for example, a missionary priest might arrive at a place to find a thousand people waiting.    That conference will lay down the proper conditions for the priest.  In the USA, these problems don’t exist and the bishops have laid down the conditions.

Also to be abominated is the scheduling of General Absolution, which is as wrong wrong wrong as wrong can be!  You cannot reasonably schedule an emergency.

This whole scenario, in addition, underscores another problem.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

Confessions are scheduled from 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm, once a week, before a 4:00 pm Saturday Mass.  The priest sits, lonely in the confessional, until the first penitent shows up at 3:42.  She is immediately followed by 20 people who all want to get their sins shriven before this Mass.  When, at 4:03, the priest has to leave the confessional to start Mass late, they are mad… at the priest!

Keeping in mind my 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession, if you have grave sins you must confess, try to get to church for the beginning of confessions, not toward the end of the scheduled time.

Everyone, avoid General Absolution.

You cannot receive General Absolution twice validly, except in danger of death, without having made a regular, auricular confession beforehand.

When you receive General Absolution, licitly or illicitly, you are bound to confess all your mortal sins in the normal manner as soon as you can.  If priests are scheduling General Absolution way in advance, blow the whistle on them.

This is a serious abuse of God’s people which has to be stopped.

UPDATE:

It occurs to me that not all of you know the three forms.

Form 1 is regular, auricular (“to the ear”) confession, one penitent and one confessor, during which you confess all your mortal sins in kind and number and, most likely, receive absolution.

Form 2 is “communal penance” service which involves a liturgical service, usually involving some Scripture readings, a sermon and/or help with examination of conscience, after while penitents go to confession individually to priests.

Form 3 is “general absolution”, whereby absolution is given to one or more people without any confession of sins.  This is done in an emergency or in moments of grave need.  Generally diocesan bishops determine the circumstances.  However, in case of emergency, such as a disaster, priests can and should just give it.

Happily, regularly scheduled Form 3 has died off in most places.  So, the Ass. are obviously living in the past, promoting yet another cliché from the 80’s.

Moderation queue is now ON.

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42 Responses to Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests promotes “General Absolution”. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

  1. Supertradmum says:

    Why do bishops allow this? I have questioned this before in America.

  2. CatholicMD says:

    Should be renamed the Ass. of US Catholic Priests over the age of 70.

    For forty years I loathed that generation
    and said, “They are a people who err in heart,
    and they do not regard my ways.”
    Therefore I swore in my anger
    that they should not enter my rest.

    – Psalm 95

  3. Mike says:

    Does the AUSCP website provide a link to a list of its members? One would think they’d find it useful in order to provide liberals access to sympathetic clerics (as well as helping the faithful know whom to avoid, although that would seem unlikely to be a concern of the Association).

  4. Cafea Fruor says:

    I used to wonder if the motivation for the abuse of general absolution was simple laziness on the part of the priest, but now I’m thinking it’s really so that liberal priests can earn kudos with liberal (c)atholics by not requiring them ever to ‘fess up because, you know, for the liberals, confessing to a priest who’s “just a man” is so “obsolete”.

    After all, who actually wants to face sacramentally the One whom you have offended, considering that He might actually demand something uncomfortable of you, you know, that whole uncomfortable penance and reparation idea that is also so “obsolete”.

    *smh*

  5. andia says:

    In my diocese many parishes have 15 minutes of confession once a week. Others have confession by apt ONLY ( what does that do to annonymity?) only 1/4 of our parishes have 1/2 a week or more and only one ( the Jesuit parish) has daily confession. Even with this I can find enough priests to confess to when needed. I’ve only had one priest refuse my confession request~he was on the way to give Last Rites, so that was completely undrstandable.

    General absolution is NOT needed from where I sit, if people would make a slight effort. The problem is folks don’t seem to feel the need to make the effort any more. I really wish more priests would talk to us about the need for confession and absolution from the pulpit. A general Catechis on the sacraments would be better than general absolution.

  6. LarryW2LJ says:

    I was nearly floored this past weekend when Father mentioned on Sunday about how many people line up for Communion, but not so much for Confession. I was so happy that he finally came out with it. We have Confession each Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. I usually show up between 11:00 and 11:15 and there’s hardly ever a long line by that time, so there’s plenty of opportunity there.

    BTW, would the proper abbreviation be Assoc.? ;-)

  7. Athelstan says:

    Reading through both the letter and the 14 page background document, I’m struck by two things:

    1) They ask for fuller use of the “Vatican II Rites” of penance. But they can quote no passage from any Conciliar document calling for the use of general absolution – only a couple of generic passages that don’t touch on the question.

    2) They cite Paul VI’s 1973 Decree on the Rite of Penance, but fail to acknowledge its clear injunction: “Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession.” (This norm is reiterated m the Code of Canon Law, No. 960 and the Catechism, No. 1420ff)

    Instead, all they can cite for an authority for shifting Church practice on this is “Theologians have shown…”

    The AUSCP is correct in noting, and apparently deploring, the low rate of resort to the sacrament of Penance by Catholics. But it’s evident that they have failed to look hard at their own responsibility for this state of affairs. How often do they make themselves available for confession? How much do they publicize it? How often do they preach or teach on it? And likewise, they have failed to come to grips with the fact that their only solution to few confessions does not actually involve generating more confessions.

    It’s true (I would contend) that the sacrament of Penance has changed more than any other sacrament in its practice (indeed, in some ways, it used to be tougher). But as Peter Kreeft has noted, it has not changed in its fundamentals: It has always required the basic three parts: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. General absolution is not a satisfactory way of insuring these three aspects of Penance.

  8. Gail F says:

    I have never heard of any parish offering general absolution, where the heck would someone do that, and why?

  9. Joseph-Mary says:

    We have two parishes in town with confessions 6 days a week. And twice a day on most of those days. Our priests are ones who truly care for and love the souls in their charge. They are not lazy or minimize the sacramental life. That is why I live where I do.

  10. mburn16 says:

    “Others have confession by apt ONLY ( what does that do to annonymity?)”

    This point is huge. My home parish is also by appointment only…and our “confessional” doubles as the cry room, complete with rocking chair and full glass windows into the sanctuary. I would feel less like a penitent and more like something you put in a tank in the corner of your living room.

    General absolution is horribly abused…but this is not exclusively the fault of the faithful.

  11. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A similar thing I observed at a dinner party a decade or so ago: a priest of a certain age held forth that people should receive anointing of the sick in order to obtain absolution. He clearly implied that he thought this was a preferable approach for both the recipient of the Sacrament as well as for the minister of the Sacrament so as to avoid any unpleasant discourse. I wonder how many people he misled. It’s pretty clear that the absolution conveyed in anointing is similar to the general absolution mentioned by Fr. Z above in that a full confession should be made at the first opportunity after being anointed – however if confession can reasonably be made before anointing, it should be. It also fosters an abuse of anointing, which has its own quite specific purpose distinct from a slick avoidance of acknowldgement of one’s sins in type and number.

    Unsurprisingly, the old priest since went into open schism. He holds court in space borrowed from a liberal protestant congregation. I am grateful that this fellow no longer has priestly faculties and I pray often that he returns to the Church.

  12. Elizabeth D says:

    They are hilarious (and pathetic). I saw a link to a press release they put out about this which was titled and began in such a way as to make it seem like they were asking for confessions to be more available. [Exactly!] I thought “wait… isn’t this the dissident priest group?” You had to read a bit to get to the punch line: their solution is general absolution! Haha veryfunnynicetry. The target audience of this is not the USCCB but the liberal media machine, other liberal Catholics who have no intention of repenting of sins, and fellow pusillanimous priests who don’t like to be bothered actually hearing confessions, counseling and exhorting people and validly absolving people of sins.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. acardnal says:

    My suggestion for these gray-haired priests who were poorly formed in the seminaries of the ’60s and ’70s is: go to CONFESSION. Make a good, integral and auricular confession to a priest with faculties. Then engage in Lenten fasting and abstinence practices with daily prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

    [How radical! You must hate Vatican II!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  14. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I’m usually the first in line for Confession. I’ve never been more than third in line for Confession. I’m almost always the youngest person in line for Confession (And I’m looking at the big 3-0…).

    And I’ll be going to Confession this Saturday afternoon.

    Why WOULDN’T ANY Catholic crawl on their hands and knees to Confession? It’s such a wonderful gift from Almighty God. And if you force yourself to go more often, as I’ve been doing, EVERYTHING gets easier! It’s amazing! It get easier to confess your sins the more often you do it, and more importantly, it gets easier to not commit sins in the first place!

  15. asperges says:

    The initial reforms of penance were a dog’s breakfast which were unable to be applied sensibly in practice because they were utterly unworkable. I remember the 70s when briefly we had very long confessions with readings and a sermon – for each penitent – an embarrassing farce; then general confessions with a quicky moment’s personal contact with a priest which satisfied nobody. That was all quietly and quickly dropped. By this time the few who went to confession dreaded it and others just abandoned it, I suspect, and others just looked for a sensible confessor who never changed.

    Odd terms are being used again: ‘mercy’ now means ‘abandon any juridical procedure’ or just ‘go soft.’ The Pope’s words, however he meant them, are used by the manipulators to mean anything at all, as in the famous ‘who am I to judge’ is taken wordwide as a byword for ‘it’s OK now.’ So we put up with the age of sloppy thinking and every lunatic idea is handed on a plate.

    Sorry, to me it is all smoke and mirrors. These are bad times. After ten years of stability, the 70s hippie types have one last outing. Modernism never really dies after all.

  16. Little84 says:

    There seems these days to be a resurgence of the “We need to be using the full rite” argument. It’s terrible argument: no one complains about other sacraments that are restricted to very narrow times and places not being “fully utilized”. Though it’s not a sacrament, I don’t hear anyone saying “We’ve got to be able to do more exorcisms, so that the community has access to all the rites of the Church.” I don’t accept the premise that a ritual that is designed to be used in rare circumstances is thereby being “denied” to anyone. Judging from the long lines in the downtown parish where I serve, and the many hours a week I spend in the confessional, people who are really serious about conversion and healing are getting what they need from Form I.

  17. iamlucky13 says:

    “The priest sits, lonely in the confessional, until the first penitent shows up at 3:42. She is immediately followed by 20 people who all want to get their sins shriven before this Mass. “

    I observe the late-comers like this in many places. However, usually I don’t see father sitting alone waiting for them.

    What I see more commonly is I arrive at 3:00 PM and there’s 3-4 people in line, because the 45 minutes per week that confession is scheduled is not enough for a medium-sized parish of 500+ families, so a few of us make sure to get there before the rush.

    But then each person proceeds to take 20 minutes to confess. If I’m the third person, I make it. If I’m the 4th, I miss out.

    I know some penitents have more to confess and need more direction than others, and I don’t begrudge that at all. But does it really take 20 minutes? Or are some people using the sacrament instead as free psychological counseling or a captive audience to get things off their chest to? It would be nice if the priest could offer so much time to each penitent, but there’s hundreds of other people who need the sacrament, too.

    Am I wrong in thinking this way?

  18. LOTH says:

    I’m wearing my snarky hat today.

    Aha, the spiritual counterpart to Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp: “[Parishes in] France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany….” This gives a new meaning to the Lowlands. Who’s leading: the flock or the pastor?

    “Absolvo te” does not mean “I absolve y’all.” In His mercy Christ is always personal and intimate. He seeks out us one-to-one.

    End of snark parade.

  19. gracie says:

    Father,

    You *and* the Ass. both are soooo . . . behind the times. Yesterday at Ash Wednesday services a priest told a church full of CCD students that receiving ashes is a sign that their sins have been forgiven. Get that? They *have* been forgiven. One doesn’t need to confess them anymore. Just knowing you’re going to have them smeared on your forehead does the trick! Perhaps Amazon could get into the business of stocking ashes that could be delivered (soon by drone) right to our doors. Just knowing they’re on our doorstep, looking at that unopened box, means that our sins have been absolved. Only does it happen at the point of delivery or when you place the order? That’s the one bit I still don’t get.

  20. Norah says:

    As you rightly say, Form 3 is to be used in an emergency situation or when it would be impossible to hear the confession of all the penitents in a reasonable period of time.

    As far as I am aware the person who has survived the air crash after having had their sins forgiven via Form 3, must, if they have committed a serious sin go to individual confession as soon as possible. Therefore, if one has to confess serious sins to a priest anyway why participate in a non-emergency Form 3?

  21. Mike says:

    Why WOULDN’T ANY Catholic crawl on their hands and knees to Confession?

    Because it’s denigrated, downplayed, dismissed from the pulpit. Which is a curable condition. You can say what you like about the liturgical wackiness in some parts of my diocese, and so do I. But here at least we are taught to Go To Confession, because The Light Is On For You. And that teaching brings penitents of all ages and states of life, including some mighty wretched ones (including at least one case some years back to which I can attest *cough*), and keeps the confessors, God bless ’em all, busy in and out of Lent.

  22. Charles E Flynn says:

    Is there a canon that regulates the number of times a really bad idea gets a thorough public airing, complete with state-of-the-art trial balloons?

  23. FrAnt says:

    I received a postcard from this group several years ago. I read the postcard and went to their website, never once did they speak about Jesus. I wrote an email encouraging them in numerous ways to be the men the priesthood calls them to be. All I received back was an email thanking me for my thoughts, and saying we are a “big tent church” where all are free to live as they feel called. I shook my head in sadness.
    I believe them to be the male equivalent of the LCWR.

  24. magistercaesar says:

    More use of Vatican II rites? So they’ll also be following Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram? Everything will be in Latin, ad orientem, and chanted? Altar serving will be open only to males, and all of those “praise and worship” bands in liturgy will be disbanded? I’m always in support of that!

  25. ray from mn says:

    Father Z: There is another form of confession that is rarely mentioned: the General Confession.
    I was out of the Church for maybe 20 years, not rejecting it, just being lazy, to be honest. But searching. I’ll spare you the details but in 1982 or so, I founding myself walking one Saturday morning up to a Basilica in my city to attend a one day retreat and found myself going to Confession on the spur of the moment to a priest and blurted out a few of my many sins that I had committed in those 20 years. Most of them Mortal Sins and I had no idea of the numbers. But I was truly repentant and received absolution from the priest and began a rocky road’s journey back to full communion with the Church.
    But I never felt truly comfortable about my status. I kept feeling lots of guilt about some of the things that I had done (none of them criminal, most of them personal) in my past.
    So maybe 20 years later, 40 years from my “break” with the Church I decided that I needed a General Confession, where I would sit down with a priest and re-confess all the sins of my life with a priest. I made an appointment with a priest I knew, and for a week or so I reviewed my life and made a long list of the things that had been bothering me. We met in his office one day and I had my computer generated list of sins and we went over them one by one. Some were very serious, some not so much so, but after an hour or so we completed the General Confession. The priest told me that I was the first person that had ever asked for a General Confession. But I left his office knowing that I truly had been forgiven by my Lord Jesus Christ and I don’t dwell on those pecadillos of my past any more. I immediately destroyed that list and eradicated it from my computer so I wouldn’t feel tempted to go over them again.
    Of course I have committed other sins since then, but I have attempted to go to Confession since then though much more frequently. It’s been six weeks since my last Confession right now and it behooves me that I’d best get to Confession again this coming weekend.
    I’m blessed to be a member of a parish that has Confessions before most of its weekend Masses, so I’ll be there this weekend for sure.
    Father, talk more about the General Confession!!! [Okay… it should be rare.]

  26. John Grammaticus says:

    ……….. I don’t get it, I don’t get it, I don’t get it.

    I don’t get the Priests who are perfectly happy to sit in the confessional for 5 minutes into the scheduled times but if no one turns up will get out and woe betide he that cometh for the Sacrament 10 minutes before the scheduled time is due to end.

    The Parish I go to on weekdays has confession for 25 minutes before the midday Mass, you have lots of people everyday (although they tend to be the same ones), at the vigil Mass I’m usually the only one (and I have to make sure I’m there for bang on half five) yet EVERYONE goes up for Holy Communion ….. Grrrrrrr

  27. lmgilbert says:

    iamlucky13, I once worked out the mathematics for confession in a parish with 1000 people. I did this first by querying well-formed Catholics ( daily communicants), “Over the course of your life what have you been taught is the minimal frequency of receiving the sacrament of penance that the Church recommends?” We know that the Church commands yearly Confession, but I was asking what they have heard from the pulpit, from confessors and from catechists over the years as a recommended frequency. I separately queried about ten people in their 70’s. To a person they each said, “At least once a month.” If you work that out, with an average confession taking four minutes, it comes to about 17 hours of confession time per week in a parish with 1000 people if people are at all serious about their spiritual lives. By the same token, if you reduce the weekly confessional time to an hour a week with a parish of that size, at four minutes per confession that is only 15 persons a week. If each person in the parish only goes once a year, then only 780 people could make their confession. In other words, the allotted confession times in most parishes do not even permit all the parishioners to make their Easter duty. In other words, we are in a very bad way vis a vis the availability of the Sacrament. Yet for what other reason do priests exist except to preach and provide the Sacraments? To go to meetings? As I said in a letter to the editor of our local Catholic paper, “For this we spent $56,000 a year to put Johnny through the seminary?” For one hour a week or less of hearing confessions??!! With this policy priests are rendering themselves absurd.

  28. Allan S. says:

    Yes, at my old parish while visiting my old city in the past week, I ‘learned’ that the penitential rite in Mass (side note: one never hears the Confiteor – just the three line Kyrie) “forgives our sins”. The Bulletin claims they have confession after (yup…after) the 430 Sat vigil Mass. Since this used to be my home parish, I will add that this is untrue. They do not have confession, ever. They do not even have a confessional anywhere in the church. And during RCIA I was taught that as soon as we are sorry for our sins, they are forgiven.

    Basically the wolves run the hen house. Those in charge of the larger Church have a very clear agenda, and it hasn’t been concealed for a while:

    1. Eliminate any belief in sin, and undermine all liturgical language or acts that mention or remind people of sin. In RCIA I was taught that sin is defined simply as anything that does harm to another person. It was only much later that I realized that, if true, then sin against God was impossible. They lied.

    2. Eliminate and undermine any belief in the Real Presence, and remove any elements of the liturgy that constitute worship of any kind. If you can’t eliminate it, then redirect it – have people worship feelings, or each other – anything but Him. Allow everyone to help themselves to consecrated hosts in the Tabernacle, and make sure EHMCs are plentiful and totally uneducated about the role.

    3. Destroy the priesthood. Confuse the faithful with laity – especially women – running around the sanctuary doing as many clerical tasks as possible. Ensure clerics don’t wear clerical clothing, and disregard rubrics and correct vesting. Do you know why those priests who wear stoles outside the chasuble do it? Because the rubrics say to wear the stole under the stole – that’s why.

    I have, however, noticed a few ways to identify these clerics. Here are pretty reliable tip-offs that your dealing with a cleric who does not share your Catholic faith:

    – They do not pray their Office. In fact, they don’t pray unless they have to.
    – They run down anything traditional as well as major tenets of the faith in private conversation, if they think you’re of a similar view (E.g. “Hey, Father – sorry, Bill – you guys don’t actually believe in the Devil and actual angels and all that, right? Please tell me you’ve finally dumped all that crazy medieval nonsense!”)
    – They believe in universal salvation – either the ‘there’s no hell’ version, or the ‘there’s a hell, but nobody goes there’. The Christian faith is not necessary for salvation, all faiths being different streams flowing to the same place.
    – If you ask them to bless a sacramental with a traditional blessing – especially one containing an exorcism – they will refuse. Even if you bring the book, have it out, ask at a convenient time, offer to return – offering every accommodation – they will absolutely refuse, every time.

    We must, unfortunately, unite our sufferings with the faithful from other similar times of crisis in the Church – those suffering under Arian bishops, anti-popes etc., and we must pray for our Bishops and priests. We must love the Church even when she hates and attacks us, and when our general flees the battlefield.

    I have found faithful priests where I live now and am humbled and grateful for their faithful ministry. But this is an outpost on shifting sand, in a war torn battlefield with the walls breached.

  29. Andrew says:

    I received General Absolution once in my life at an Army base at the time of the Vietnam War.

  30. Mom2301 says:

    For my son’s first “confession” last week they each had a candle, some readings were read then the priest invited each child to come and whisper to him the name of “someone they really bothered”. Next they were excused and had some pizza. When my eleven year old daughter asked her brother how his first confession went he told her what they did. She remarked “That’s not confession. That’s a pizza party!” I guess we will be finding a nearby parish where he can have his real first confession soon. I am so dreading his First Communion day. Please pray for our little 2nd graders receiving their First Communion this year.

  31. Random Friar says:

    I help sometimes with confessions at a major US cathedral, not exactly known for its traditional bent. I was surprised that the rector told me to make sure I didn’t just give “General Absolution” if people were still waiting at the end of confessions. Apparently, a couple of supply priests did this on their own, but the archdiocese certainly did not approve.

  32. John Grammaticus says:

    Update

    The Weekday parish has a new Priest who although he seems in my experience (been twice now) to be an excellent confessor seems to be operating on the assumption that Confession is also a place for spiritual direction. Don’t get me wrong it was nice that he took the time but it did mean that I had to wait until after Mass to confess

  33. Latin Mass Type says:

    A local priest mentioned that he had heard confessions for four hours at two churches on Ash Wednesday. He wasn’t bragging, he really wants people to come to confession. He’s the one in the parish who, on his own, has regular weekly hours outside the posted confession times.

  34. michelekc says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but this discussion made me think of those priests who really are so dedicated to this wonderful gift and Sacrament. I went to Confession at the National Shrine in DC yesterday. During Lent, they offer Confessions for a couple hours in the morning and 3-4 hours in the afternoon everyday! I walked in about an hour after Confessions started, and there was no line, but two confessors waiting patiently with doors wide open and green lights glowing. It was so heartening to see the dedication of these priests who sat in those confessionals for hours for penitents who may or may not show.

  35. Volanges says:

    My parish and diocese celebrated Form 3 in Advent and Lent for years and the pews would be full. One year it was used as ‘First Confession’ for the children who were going to be confirmed and receive their First Communion. Luckily, the bishop put a stop to Form 3 in 2001 or 2, after the ad limina visit. We continued to have Form 2 during Advent and Lent but fewer and fewer people attended and private confessions were usually over within a few minutes.

    Up until 2004 Confession in our parish had been offered for an hour before the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning Masses and also by request. By all reports that was lonely time for the priest and when a new pastor was appointed in 2004 he promptly cancelled the scheuduled pre-Mass confessions, stating that he wasn’t wasting his time sitting alone in the reconciliation room. From that time on we had to tap him on the shoulder and request Confession. Not everyone is comfortable doing that — some really want to slip into a confessional unseen by the priest — so the number availing of this sacrament decreased even further. His successor didn’t reinstate the scheduled confessions but continued the biannual Form 2.

    In 2012 a new pastor was appointed. He immediately told us that Form 2 was gone (I do miss those services and would love to see one every month) and scheduled regular confessions from 1-2 pm every Saturday as well as by request any time. It’s great. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t sit in the reconciliation room so that one can simply slip in and go to confession.

    This past weekend I went around 1:30. Nobody else around. Fr. was sitting in the very first pew engrossed in saying the rosary. He was totally unaware that someone had entered the church. At first I didn’t realize what he was doing. I sat at the back and waited but his posture and the sounds he was emitting made me think he was crying. I know he’s got two friends who are very ill so I thought possibly one had died. I walked toward the front to check on him but realized I was hearing his rosary click on the pew. He still didn’t notice my presence. Once he finished his prayer and sat down I went to request the sacrament.

  36. Stephen Matthew says:

    In general, it seems when priests treat confession seriously the people eventually will, too.

    My home parish has slightly less than one minute of scheduled confession time per parishioner per year. Yes, you read that right, less than one minute per person per year.

    One hour on Saturday mornings at an awkward time (not exactly early, but early enough the late nigh partiers are still in bed, yet late enough anyone with Saturday daytime plans will be busy) plus an hour on Wednesday nights in Lent (bishops orders). Only one priest hears confessions at a time, but there are three in residence at the parish. Confessions are never heard before any masses. You always must make a special trip. At least one of them, in spite of giving a very “liberal vibe” is quite generous in hearing unscheduled confessions after masses, on the rare occasion anyone is bold enough to ask.

  37. iamlucky13 says:

    “In general, it seems when priests treat confession seriously the people eventually will, too.”

    Not only that, but surely there must be a strong tie in with vocations, too. When young men and women have the sacraments consistently available and offered faithfully, it not only helps them spiritually, but also demonstrates concretely the gifts a priest brings to his parish (or a consecrated religious to his or her community).

    And when we have lots of vocations, we have more priests to offer confessions, which means a lighter load for each individual confessor. Maybe consider hearing lots of confessions now your plan for a relaxing retirement?

  38. Peg Demetris says:

    I would assume that Archbp. Kurtz has the Ass. of U.S. Catholic Priests number and will file their request promptly in “g”. (garbage)

  39. Gaz says:

    gracie mentions Father’s Ash Wednesday homily saying that receiving the ashes is a sign that their sins have been forgiven. I agree that that proposition sounds a bit extreme when we know that the Sacramental avenues for the forgiveness of mortal Sin are Baptism and Confession (Anointing of the Sick?).

    However, when we look at venial sin, there are other ways of obtaining forgiveness. An act of contrition, the confiteor at Mass, proper examination of concience during Compline are some other ways that we can obtain remedy for wrongs committed that don’t meet the grade of ‘mortal’. (Note: Holy Mother Church encourages us to confess these too when we go to Confession).

    I argue that well-disposed reception of ashes on Ash Wednesday can also be a remedy for venial sin. One only needs to look at the prayers of blessing of ashes in the extraordinary form. Here are some salient quotations.

    “… send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to bless and hallow these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who implore Thy holy Name, and who accuse themselves, concious of their sins, deploring their crimes before Thy divine mercy…”

    “… and grant through the invocation of Thy most holy Name that whosoever shall be sprinkled with them for the remission of their sins may receive both health of body and safety of soul..”

    “…vouchsafe to bless these ashes which we purpose to put upon our heads in token of our lowliness and to obtain forgiveness…”

    “… pour forth upon the heads of Thy servants sprinkled with these ashes the grace of Thy blessing; that Thou mayest both fill them with the spirit of compunction, and effectually grant what they have justly prayed for…”

    Proper reception of ashes on Ash Wednesday does effect the forgiveness of sin (venial).

    @gracie, I don’t think Father was entirely wrong. Perhaps he could have explained it better.

    Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His mercy endures forever. God bless our priests.

  40. vandalia says:

    This is the interesting thing:

    The “Spirit of Vatican II” priests emphasize the practical effects of the Sacraments. To quote one “Baptism is not magic. It simply represents the inclusion of the baby into the family of the faithful.” (So baptism should only be done when the family is fully participating in the life of the parish. Certainly not “in danger of death.”) Or the idea that the Sacrament of Penance is essentially psychological counseling. This is why some of these priests “of a certain age” insist on a long discussion and/or exhortation in what should be a “cut-and-dry” celebration of the Sacrament.

    That is why I find their push for “General Absolution” (that has to be in quotes) so interesting. They seem to be contradicting one of their fundamental beliefs – Sacraments do have super-natural effect. By simply having a priest recite some phrases, they acknowledge that something actually happens.

    But then again, logical consistency has never been one of their trademarks.

  41. Fr AJ says:

    Our diocesean conference last year was on Confession. However, the presenter spent most of his time talking about general absolution and how we needed to bring it back now that Pope Francis is here. It was a complete waste of time. The only time he promoted form 1 was with group confessions of a family or friends.

  42. Rachel K says:

    I find this to be a running sore in the UK, especially in certain Northern Diceses.
    In my parish we have what appears to be a cross-over between forms two and three. This has been happening with regularity (Lent and Advent) during the 9 years I have lived here. There is a service of “reconciliation” with readings etc, with, I understand, general absolution but also the congregation are invited to come forward in a Communion line queue and confess JUST ONE SIN to a priest. They are told clearly that ALL OF THEIR SINS are forgiven by this process.
    Of course, I have not attended one of these for a long time, since my more ignorant youthful years. But it was common too in other parishes I have lived in in Northwest England. It maybe that after confessing the one sin the confessee receives “absolution” from that priest, but of course it can’t be real absolution anyway. What a mess! I am not sure hw widespread this practice is now, but it was very common in the 1990 s and 2000s.