Cong. for Clergy issues a guide for confessors, with examination of conscience

The Congregation for Clergy issued a guide for confessors entitled The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy – An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors.

I have read through this once and will eventually comment on it more. I invite priests to read this and send me comments via email which perhaps can be collected into a larger entry here.

However, I want to bring to the attention of all priests and bishops that in an appendix there is an Examination of Conscience for priests with 20 points.

Here is one of them:

3. “Zeal for your house consumes me” (Jn 2:17).

Do I celebrate the Holy Sacrifi ce of the Mass according to the rites and rubrics established by the Church? Do I celebrate Holy Mass with a right intention and according to the approved liturgical books? Am I attentive to the sacred species conserved in the tabernacle and careful to renew it periodically? Do I pay due attention to the sacred vessels and ensure their conservation? Do I wear in a dignifi ed fashion all of the sacred vestments prescribed by the Church? Am I conscious that I act in persona Christi Capitis?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:


    May I humbly recommend you give this a lot of attention on the blog when you have the opportunity to do so? Especially when it offers opportunities to clarify aspects of the sacrament of penance (in general, not just aspects pertaining to priests), as many lay people are poorly cathechized in this respect. I believe that more knowledge will encourage the reception of the sacrament.

  2. AvantiBev says:

    When up at our Mich summer cottage, I sometimes cannot make the drive all the way to Grand Rapids for the noon Latin Mass so must attend our very modern, Augustinian “clap for Jesus” Mass. After the sermon this Sunday, the pastor there said he was going to continue his instruction on the New Roman Missal but then launched into a very confusing bit about the altar linens, the corporal and the purificator and how the “try-denteen” Mass had cut corners by having the altar linens in place at the beginning of Mass when pre-try-denteen, the people had carried them in procession and placed them on the altar (which THIS pastor kept calling the “banquet table”). Anyway he then confused me even more by saying that “post-Vatican” had kept this corner-cutting by allowing the altar linens to be in place at the beginning of “our communal banquet”.

    HUH? What the heck this has to do with instruction on the new translations I have no clue and I never heard that having the altar linens in place was “cutting corners” from any other priest. I would be curious as to Father Z’s take on this.

  3. “…there is an Examination of Conscience for priests with 20 points.”

    I didn’t know there was a point system for priests. Do priests with less than 20 points have a different examination or do they not have to go to confession at all?


    [Speaking of crickets chirruping.]

  4. Emilio III says:

    I think that Examination of Conscience for Priests should be required reading, particularly for those who minimize the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the priesthood of the baptized. And for anyone who does not realize that all priests need our prayers every day…

  5. robtbrown says:

    A prime reason why Confession is not often used is that it is scheduled at the not very convenient times. Availability of just 30 minutes on mid Sat afternoon doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why priests don’t make it available before and/or after daily mass a head shaker.

  6. Paul says:

    @robtbrown, I couldn’t agree more. I belong to a large (6,000+ people) parish that maintains two churches, three full time priests, a couple of “fill in priests”, four deacons, and a school. Among all that, they only manage a 30 minute confession opportunity at 3PM on Wednesday and 6PM on Saturday. Unfortunately, since in all the years I have attended Mass here, I have never heard confession mentioned from the pulpit, the lines are typically short or non-existent.

    /semi-relevant story to follow:
    My work generally prevents me from going during those times, so I often end up scheduling a private meeting with one of the priests, if I can’t get to confession while traveling. Upon being grilled by the office person, “Are you sure you need to confess today? Is it really that bad?” I replied, “My sins are so heinous that they resulted in my Lord being crucified and they threaten to damn me to hell for all time. Would you like more details?” She quickly made the appointment and has not asked again.

  7. robtbrown says:


    I had the following experience a few ars ago. With the inconvenient times for Confession, I decided to go to the Chancery and use a priest there. There were two women at the desk. When I asked about a priest for Confession, they asked me why I don’t go in my parish. I resisted the inclination to tell them it was none of their business (which it wasn’t), instead warning them not to get me started on the lack of availability of Confession.

    Then they told me there were no priests in the building–the bishop was out of town. When I asked again whether there was no priest, they again said “none”. Then one piped up and said, “Oh, there’s Fr so and so, but he’s really old.” I answered that I knew him (which I did–he was the archivist), and he was exactly what I wanted.

    O tempora! O mores!

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