Pope Francis: “keep the light on in the confessional and are available, then you will see what kind of line there is”

A couple interesting details in this story from Vatican Radio.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had lunch with seven Roman priests on Thursday after celebrating the Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The meal took place in the apartment of Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. Most of the priests work with the poor and under-privileged in the suburbs of Rome.
The Archbishop has held this lunch for several years, and when Pope Francis heard about it, he wanted to attend. After the lunch, Vatican Radio spoke with two of the priests who attended.
“I don’t believe the Pope wanted to meet me personally, but wanted to meet the poor of Rome through me,” said Msgr. Enrico Feroci, the Director of Caritas Rome. He said listening to the Pope is an extraordinary experience, and that he puts you at ease, and makes it feel as if you have been heard.
“He is not one who listens to you thinking about what to say next,” Msgr. Feroci said. “He listens profoundly; empathetically; richly.” He recounted how during the lunch, Pope Francis joked, listened, reflected, and gave his perspective. Msgr. Feroci said Pope Francis urged them to be generous in offering confession.
“He said, ‘Open the doors of the Church, and then the people will come in…if you keep the light on in the confessional and are available, then you will see what kind of line there is for confession’…The Pope said he was confident of the need of the people of God for priests to open the doors and allow the people to meet God,” Msgr. Feroci told Vatican Radio.Father Mario Pasquale, who had served as a worker-priest for 40 years, told Vatican Radio that he felt “heard” during the meal with the Pope, and that he had the “feeling of being understood.”
He said Pope Francis told them he wants to meet the people in the parishes as Bishop of Rome.“You feel that the Pope has a lot of hope in his heart,” Father Pasquale said. “I had this feeling that this is someone who love the Church and invites you to love the Church, too, to the end – for life – and that it’s worth it.”

First, it is wonderful that Pope Francis mentioned in such a direct way the sacrament of penance.

Second, could this be an indication of whom he will choose for Secretary of State?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thank you for this, Father. Yes, as you have suggested, those painting the Holy Father as some kind of liberal are going to end up disappointed.

  2. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I love the way that Papa Francis repeatedly calls us to reconcile with God and then to trust that he is close to us. I hope that the number of people who find new hope through through the sacrament of penance will grow and that people will come to know just how much God loves them. I think that I commented before that this papacy reminds me of the way that Jesus opened his public ministry, “Repent and believe in the Good News” (Mk 1:15). It is a central message that applies to every person every day.

  3. eiggam says:

    In the homily on Easter Sunday, Father confirmed this point by telling us that extra hours spent in the confessional last week had steady lines .

  4. Lavrans says:

    Promoting the Sacrament of Penance is awesome, so thank you Holy Father and God bless! As for the Secretary of State, a change is welcome and warranted. But as for the head of the Apostolic Signatura, a change is not welcome nor warranted…unless he becomes the head of the CDF or CDW!!!

  5. BLB Oregon says:

    Our Holy Father is so clear on these two things:

    Christ–not “goodness” or “religion” or “good will”, but Christ Our Lord Himself–is the only answer to the problem of evil in the world, and even though by the divinely directed working of the Holy Spirit grace flows to many unexpected corners not under the direct control of the Roman Pontiff, the Church herself is the singular source from which the grace of God flows into the world.

    We are plagued by sin, from which we must repent, and not just by psychological defects and personal “struggles”. He is also clear that the sacraments of the Church are the ordinary means by which God heals mankind from sin, including the Sacrament of Penance, and not just the penitential rite.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Open the doors of the Church, and then the people will come in…”

    Probably, to rob it.

    Okay, hear me out…

    I used to be able to spend all night praying in a church. Now, my home parish has coded locks and locks the front door, electronically, five minutes after Mass is over in the morning. Why? Because (oh, the irony) a homeless shelter set up shop practically next door. I would love to be able to have churches open 24/7, but, many people are anti-religion and some of the, “poor,” really need other help than a foot washing.

    I know the desperation of the poor, but, “the poor,” has become an umbrella term for things having nothing to do with lack of money. I have no truck with a merely sentimental approach to poverty. Poverty is as individual as the life each person lives. Some, “poor,” need money; some need tenderness and understanding; some need a swift kick in the rear. Part of dealing with the poor means developing a sense of discretion, of discernment, which is part of the gift of wisdom. It would seem to me that before one sets out to serve the poor, one ought to help and insist that the person who will serve them grow in wisdom. That way, they will have a better chance of really rendering the correct help needed.

    It is very good to keep the light on in the confessional, but it is far better to preach about the need for confession. There are so many people who would not go to confession, even if the priest lived in the confessional, for the very simple reason that they don’t think they have to. It is not enough to say, “…if you build it, they will come.” They won’t come if they can’t see the need.

    Here is where wisdom comes into play. Many people who don’t go to confession are so spiritually poor because of their misunderstanding of sin, especially the sins they think are, “no big deal,” that they can no longer feel their own starvation. Every little tenderness shown them is taken to be a huge spiritual awakening because they simply do not have the spiritual strength to receive the strong graces of the Cross. Their entire spirituality becomes one of tenderness, of never admitting sin, of living for the next, “love bomb,” to use a term from the cults. People who don’t go to confession because they think they don’t have to tend to gather together in mutually self-reinforcing, almost cultic, groups of self-delusion. Wisdom, before it can apply the remedy, must first convince the man that he is sick and that is not often easy because part of the poverty of sin is a sort of delusion of invincibility covering over a very touchy nerve. Genuinely poor people look outward, but the spiritually poor are always looking inward, not to find God, but in an ever more vain attempt to find themselves. Paradoxically, however, they will never find themselves until they find God. That means, one must first show them that they haven’t got God. Rather, since God is at the center of the soul of even one in mortal sin, it is more proper to say that they are in the mote outside of the castle of their soul not realizing that there is a warm fire, within, and no matter how much they look inward, they will never be admitted into the castle, so that they may safely look out upon the world, until the drawbridge lowers and the guards let them in. Confession is a sign to the gatekeeper to lower the bridge.

    I am sure that many will comment on the rightness of leaving churches open and confessionals manned, but both churches and confessionals are refuges of sinners and we have psychologized all of that away, haven’t we?

    It seems to me that rather than simply suggesting that leaving a confessional manned will bring in more people (in this day and age, a few more) , one needs to answers a far more fundamental question, the one Karl Menninger posed exactly forty years ago in a book of the same title, “Whatever became of sin?” Menninger equates moral health with mental health and I would go further and equate spiritual health with societal health. The reason churches must keep their doors locked is, exactly, paradoxically, because of the spiritual poverty of societies. One does not, ordinarily wait for such a society to hit rock bottom, thinking they will then, seek help – the pit of depravity is bottomless. Rather, one must rouse the poor, wash their faces, and point them in the direction of sunlight. In other words, one must speak about sin to the sinner. St. John Vianney spent most of his homilies preaching about sin. Do you wonder why his confessional lines were so long in his own parish (before he got famous)?

    If the poor were truly poor, they would be asking to help out at churches, rather than trying to score some money. True poverty opens one up to service. Many people who are poor, today, I conclude are merely lacking money. They aren’t really poor, at all. Truly poor people would be happy to spend all night in prayer in a church, just knowing that there is Someone Who Cares reposed on the altar and yet, give some poor people that option and they think they are being asked to give away what they really cling to – their control.

    Oh, this is a complicated subject and I have spent years thinking about it. There is a lemma, which is a part of some theory I can’t yet clearly see, that says, the more open the doors of the hearts of a city, the more open the doors of the church. If that lemma is true, then we have a long way to go.

    Dear priests, talk about sin, talk about sin, talk about sin. Put little tests in the bulletin, like crossword puzzles in a newspaper. The biggest single problem facing society, today – any society in the world, it seems, is that few can answer that one simple question – Whatever became of sin?

    The Chicken

  7. americangirl says:

    I didn’t always love the Sacrament of Reconciliation because in my young adult life I truly didn’t understand its origins and its profound meaning. However because of a good and holy Priest who preached God’s Mercy contained in this Sacrament I have come to love it. I try to encourage people to seek this Sacrament not only if they have been away from the Church but on a regular basis. It is truly a Sacrament which leads to true freedom!
    Pope Francis is correct in what he says about the application of the Sacrament of Penance and opening the doors to the Church. In my parish we conduct a Lenten penance service in conjunction with individual Confessions over 700 people attended and partook in this Sacrament. This year on Good Friday our Pastor heard Confessions for three hours over 200 hundred people attended. Something is happening in spite of all the negative publicity surrounding our Church and the media ‘s attempt to declare the Catholic Church on its way to extinction. The grace of God is flowing. At the Easter Vigil we had 10 people baptized and over thirty receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and Communion. Praise God! THE CHURCH IS ALIVE IN HIM!

  8. Papabile says:

    The fact of the matter is, just putting on the light eventually works. Our old parish Priest started the availability of confessions 15 minutes prior to and 15 minutes after each Mass. All four of our Priests would sit in the confessionals. At first, few if any confessed, and then we were reduced to three Priests (1 being retired)…. But the lines started to grow slowly. They added regular Wednesday night confession ties for 1.5 hours in addition to the normal Saturday times.

    The Priests referred to the Sacrament as a chance to “get your wings dusted”. Today, we have regular lines of a few dozen before every Mass and Confessions go on until the line exhausts during Mass. Wednesday nights are 2.5 hours of Confessions. Saturday afternoons are two hours. And on Good Friday after reposition, it was Confessions from 7 PM until the lines ran out. They ran out at 1:15 AM.

    The best part is that one sees extensive participation by the young, particularly high school ages. It’s becoming habituated in them.

  9. BLB Oregon says:

    “If the poor were truly poor, they would be asking to help out at churches, rather than trying to score some money. True poverty opens one up to service. Many people who are poor, today, I conclude are merely lacking money. They aren’t really poor, at all.”

    This is not right! I do not want to attack you personally, because you are obviously trying to say a praiseworthy thing that needs saying, but heaven forbid we use words like this to say it! It is an insult to say that a man who lays awake at night wondering how to feed his children and to get a roof over their heads again isn’t “really poor, at all”, while someone in a monastery with a holy confessor who merely needs to obtain permission to get everything he needs is “truly poor”. If someone has neither the dignity of work or the ability to obtain even the most basic necessities of life, of course he’s in poverty! If it were no poverty to be without material goods, then why would it be a work of mercy to get someone fed or clothed or sheltered? Rather, there are two classes of poverty, both of which are addressed by the Works of Mercy that are the duties of the faithful:

    The Corporal Works of Mercy
    •Feed the hungry
    •Give drink to the thirsty
    •Clothe the naked
    •Shelter the homeless
    •Visit the sick
    •Visit the imprisoned
    •Bury the dead

    The Spiritual Works of Mercy
    •Admonish the sinner
    •Instruct the ignorant
    •Counsel the doubtful
    •Comfort the sorrowful
    •Bear wrongs patiently
    •Forgive all injuries
    •Pray for the living and the dead

    It is not downplaying either form of poverty to acknowledge that the other is quite real. Both are real, and we need to see both and address both.

  10. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Thank you very much, Fr Z, for this bit about Pope Francis and confession…indeed, this really shows to me Pope Francis is no liberal doctrinally.

    Let us not forget that liberals believe in a church of a bloodless God who saves a SINLESS man from nastiness to niceness, not from hell to heaven, as Peter Kreeft put it so eloquently. Mahoney or Danneels would never understand why people ought to go to confession…

    I also see Becciu as a favourite to be the next secretary of state…I just hope he’s not too much of a Sodano creature…it’s all very easy to blame Bertone for the mess the Vatican is in, however, I remember Bertone was a pure Ratzingerian…a Ratzingerian who’s been tripped over time and again by the Sodano machine at the Vatican. And one thing is sure, Maciel-protecting Sodano or any of his creatures are not the solution to the problems in the curia.

  11. The Drifter says:

    In essence, what the Holy Father is saying: “Stop thinking like dog-collared bureacrats, revert to authentic pastoral work and the rest will come as a consequence”. As for the next Secretary of State, I would not be surprised if Pope Francis picked an outsider within the Vatican diplomatic service, a person beholden to no faction.

  12. ocalatrad says:

    Credit is given where it is due and promoting confession from the very top is just what our sinful world needs. As Archbishop Sheen said, we don’t need psychotherapists to explain away our sins and tell us we’re sick. We need priests to remind us of our sinfulness and show us the way to our Redeemer.

  13. louder says:

    I continue to be encouraged by our Holy Father; granted Holy Thursday was a mistake, even though I saw nothing wrong with what he did, Pope Francis should be in the service of unity, not disunity. Given that, he continues to encourage people to encounter Jesus in the sacraments, and truly experience the mercy of God. I think with a little “maturing in the office” he might be able to combine the liturgical sensibility of Benedict, with his personal style of humility and reaching out to the poor. Now that would be a very powerful method for evangelization!

    Fr. Matt

  14. Jim Dorchak says:

    The Church should do a campaign that says:
    “We’ ll leave the light on for you……………….. the confession light!.”

  15. Laura Lea says:

    Our parish only has confession once a week for 45 minutes before mass and pretty often there is not enough time for everyone to have a chance to go to confession if they are at the end of the line. Our parish is the 2nd largest parish in the archdiocese with 2,700 families too. However, a priest at a parish downtown hears confession every day of the week at noon and he has a long line because everyone knows he makes himself available for confession every day, no matter where you are from!

    Our new pope knows what he is talking about. He’s really awesome!

  16. PhilipNeri says:

    Here at St Dominic’s in New Orleans, we offered Holy Week confessions: 2 hrs on Wed, 2 hrs on Thurs, 3 hrs on Fri, and 2 hrs on Sat. Most of the time there were at least two of us in our Boxes at a time and sometimes all three of us. We heard confessions non-stop the entire time.

    If you turn on the light, Fathers, they will come!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  17. min-bee says:

    The Archdiocese of New York had a special day for confessionsthis, from about 3p to 8p or 9pm all over the archdiocese, and the local church had long lines. Unfortunately, my parish has cut back the time for confessions on the regular schedule. Not everyone wants to make an appointment in the rectory to have his confession heard, which is the only other alternative in our parish. Pope Francis is right on about making confessions more available—that is a message in itself.

  18. Mandy P. says:

    I’m so glad you saw this, Father Z., because you were the first person I thought of when I read the article this morning. I thought to myself, Father Z. is going to leap from his chair and shout, “Amen!” when he reads this. I love seeing the encouragement from Papa Francis to go to confession. Even the holiest among us need a good cleansing sometimes and frequently available confession makes it so much easier to get it done.

  19. MikeM says:

    I was going to comment on how I wished Pope Francis would have addressed Confession directly in his recent homilies. Apparently he IS talking about it. I’ve very happy to hear that.

    Masked Chicken,
    Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Obviously priests should be telling people about the importance of Confession, but, whatever he says, if Confession is only offered for half an hour, every other week, and the priest can’t even always be found when you get there, people aren’t going to take him seriously about it. If the priest is spending his time in the Confessional, people will know that he takes it seriously.

  20. Lin says:

    @The Masked Chicken. I totally understand your post. It has become almost impossible to determine the truly needy from the lazy. It is too easy to sit at home a get a free ride. Whatever happened to personal accountability? And I am all for helping the poor! But let’s give them the kind of help that leads to a better life, both physically and spiritually. I have not heard a sermon on sin in over 50 years! On another note, I have had the most difficult Lent of my life, starting with the resignation of Pope Benedict VXI through the Holy Thursday washing of the feet. Late last year, our parish was assigned a self-proclaimed progressive pastor. He often spoke of how the last two popes took us backwards. And he thinks the rubrics are guidelines only. He and the mainstream media are slobbering over Pope Francis. That makes me VERY nervous. When the Pope ignores tradition, it sets a very bad example for our priests. If we don’t pay attention to rubrics and tradition, why be Catholic?!? I pray as he becomes more experienced in his new role, he disappoints the progressives!

  21. Kieninger says:

    When I arrived as pastor of my present parish, which was built only a few years ago, the two confessionals had no indicators at all. I had red and green lights installed next to each one (with very bright LED bulbs), and now people can easily see when confessions are taking place. I also added more time for confessions on Saturday and during the week, and I preach regularly about the importance of the Sacrament of Penance. At first, the Saturday afternoon confessions were sparse, but now, both my associate pastor and I are kept busy for two hours straight. It makes my day when someone comes in after ten, twenty, or fifty years and walks out in a state of grace.

  22. anilwang says:

    Masked Chicken,

    According to Jesus, if you try to avoid the cross and avoid death, you will face eternal death. The opposite is true to. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

    If the Church plays it safe, it will die. Our only hope is in the security God brings and not man made security.

    WRT confessions, my experience confirms that parishes with just the Saturday afternoon confession tend to have only a few people, but parishes with confession before every mass, including daily mass, have long lines. This should be plain. If you have confessions when casual Catholics do not see it happening, the casual Catholic can easily ignore it or be free to believe that no-one goes to confession. If the casual Catholic sees long lines before every mass, he’ll be convicted of his own sins and want to repent.

    Similarly, parishes with daily mass tend to have more serious Catholics than parishes with only weekly masses. This should be plain. If mass is important enough to have more than once a week, then it re-enforces the message that mass is a privilege, and when there are daily masses, you *will* see people making intentions for the souls in purgatory.

    And if the parish is closed all week except during the weekends, it re-enforces the message that the Church is not special, and you can forget about it 6 days of the week.

    Are there risks of thefts? In some parishes, sure. But there are ways to deal with them by only opening the parishes when you’re sure that at least one responsible person in the parish. That’s not as hard as one would think. If a parish is really worried, then place motion sensors in the sanctuary and install altar rails so casual Catholics won’t unknowingly cross and trigger the sensors to try to touch a statue on the sides of the sanctuary. The most valuable parts of the Church are in the sanctuary so that should ease your concerns. And for the record, if someone wanted to rob a parish it should be easy. Stained glass isn’t that difficult to cut through.

    As for “if it were that simple, there must be bigger problems such as poor preaching which needs to be addressed first”. Perhaps, but perhaps the opposite is true. If a priest never here people confess, he’ll likely believe no-one believes in sin. If no-one confesses about using contraception, he’ll likely believe everyone has bought into the contraceptive mentality. In either case, a priest that doesn’t want to rock the boat will be much more fearful about preaching about sin, hell, and contraception if there are few confessions than if there are more.

  23. netokor says:

    Very few preach about hell. I didn’t hear anything about it until I found the Latin Mass and “the Vortex.” But more importantly, very few are preaching clearly and convincingly that we should fear offending the Holy Trinity, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, even more than the worst pains of hell. I hope Francis will inspire the true charity of warning everyone that there are indeed many souls in hell and that once our earthly life ceases, we must live in the eternal present that the justice of God will order. Priests of God must preach forcefully against sin and then man the confessionals. We, the faithful, must pray and sacrifice every moment of our lives so that the Lord will inspire more vocations. We are in desperate need of holy priests that will rob the evil one of as many souls as possible. St John Vianney, pray for us.

  24. lana says:

    Amen! Knowledge of sin leads to confession which leads to gratitude which leads to love.

    I was very happy our (NO) priest gave a homily in that direction last week. Also, I think the missal books currently in use have left us terribly deprived of good prayers that raise awareness of sin. I love the Missal I have for EF with the prayers from St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas etc., which emphasize how much in need we are of the cleansing we are about to receive in the Eucharist. “For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue.” …. “To Thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end.” And of course it goes without saying that for mortal sins you need confession! Though I go weekly or biweekly for venial sins and find it really helps.

    Awareness of sin -> repentance -> confession -> gratitude -> love.

  25. netokor says:

    Lana, that is lovely! “Awareness of sin -> repentance -> confession -> gratitude -> love.” And when we love Love Himself we risk not hurting Him in any way. God bless you always!

    Father Kieninger, you are my hero! May Our Lady, St. joseph and St. Michael protect you at all times. Thank you for the precious time you spend for souls in and out of the confessional! Only One can repay you for that.

  26. lana says:

    God bless you too, nekotor!

    Speaking of not keeping guard over my mind and tongue, I regret posting overmuch recently on things of which I really have no clue. It is a bit scary to think we will have to give account of every word. Judgment Day will be lengthy, I am afraid!

  27. JacobWall says:

    @Masked Chicken,

    We need both. We do need more preaching about sin, but we also need doors to be open and confessionals open. My current priest is doing an amazing job of preaching about sin! However, he is the priest for 2 parishes confessions are scheduled only at the other parish, except for once in Advent and Lent; in about 9 months he has heard confessions from only about 20 parishioners (out of about 100 regular attendees.) He told us this in his most recent sermon promoting confession, last week. He has offered to hear confession both before or after Mass for anyone who requests it, but you know, when it’s easy and right there, people are more likely to go.

    Due to limitations from the diocese, the doors are locked 24-7 (except for 2 Masses a week.)

    I’m sure that his excellent preaching (which does not shy away from the words “sin”, “Satan” or “hell,” which are well balanced with a message of God’s love and forgiveness) will bring a change to our parish, but I’m also very sure that the change would be faster if he could open the doors and open the confessional.

    I’ve been in a parish where solid sermons are given and where confession is heard often. Growth is phenomenal.

    Having doors open makes a difference too. Personally, my journey towards Catholicism was helped along greatly by the fact that I could stop and pray at a Catholic parish on the way to and from work.

    Security does have to be addressed. But addressing it does not mean closing the doors 24-7. As someone said above, “If the Church plays it safe, it will die. Our only hope is in the security God brings and not man made security.”

    I’m not defeatist, but there is the possibility that we could live to see the day when our beautiful churches which we’ve spent 1000s of dollars to protect with the best locks and finest modern security will be taken away from us or bulldozed because people don’t want them there. (Or at best, turned into museums if they are beautiful enough.) Even if it is not us, some day in the future (or in another country) those going to Masses in secret corners of someone’s basement will wonder why we didn’t enjoy our freedom when we had it, why we traded it for absolute security and lower insurance rates.

  28. JacobWall says:

    By the way, I’m delighted to hear that Pope Francis is promoting confessions and more open confessionals!

  29. APX says:

    Somehow I just don’t see this message being as popular with many Catholics as the washing the feet of women and muslim was.

  30. understand what you’re saying ‘chicken’ .We can also consider Pope Francis experience of poor is different than our experience of poverty in the United States.Perhaps Pope Francis also means-i don’t mean to read something into what he says that is not there-the spiritually poor as Mother Therese often said.

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  33. vetusta ecclesia says:

    There has been a wondeful initiative by one of the new, more orthodox brand, of English bishops whereby every church in the diocese was open for confession at the same time every week during Lent.

  34. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Chicken, and others,

    while it was as always highly interesting to read what you wrote,

    I’m quite sure awareness of sin is not the problem. We may have tried to psychologize that away; but it has not gone, and it is all the more problematic. I shirked the Sacrament of Confession for nearly seven years, without excuse, even being what is called a practicing Catholic, but I can say that awareness of sin never left me in the time period.

    Sure, we have lost the awareness that some actions are sins (such as contraception, pre-marriage fornication in stable couples and, for heterosexuals, the homosexuality of the others; as to what the homosexuals feel themselves, I’m not so sure). But that is not so much a moral as an intellectual problem. It is limited (abortion and adultery without noteworthy exception still also felt as sins), and it works both ways (smoking and eating chocolate in front of the TV at evening come to mind).

    Priests need not preach so much about hell [note: I’m giving an absolute statement, recognizing however that priests ought to preach some time about hell at all, which perhaps is not happening at all now] because people know the teaching about hell. They ought to preach about avoiding being sent there. But if they do, then please do so openly. Preach about hell, God’s justice and deserved damnation, sometimes; but do not preach about “scary and unavoidable consequences”, etc. And do not, please, preach about hell without giving concrete, realizable advice how to securely and not only probably avoid being sent there.

    This was perhaps a parenthesis; coming back to my topic – the sinner is aware of his sinfulness (even though not of the sinfulness of all of his objective sins). What keeps him from going to Confession is 1. that this is a very, very pious thing to do, and he perhaps does not want to be (what he understands as) pious, and most certainly is not and does not dare to claim, 2. that his sins are only what everybody does (which might even be true), but he does not see everybody going to confession; at least he is not of the really rotten parts of mankind (which I daresay is true), and perhaps 3. that if he did, he would have to cover so and so many of years, and he can’t even remember all of that.

    For those who are interested, the direct trigger for my own second confession (the first was before First Communion) was the desire to acquire an indulgence.

    We need to go back to the closed Confessional, the fixed confession time (“upon previous appointment”? – people will not on a grand scale call the parish secretary to schedule a time) and the large-scale devotional Confession (for the mortal sinner to hide behind, if for no other reasons). These are the easy parts.

    The more difficult parts are to either get away from the image of Confession as an exceptionally pious thing to do, or from the image of piousness as an exceptionally unpleasant thing to be. We need even more to get away from the image that the sinner is a hypocrite if he does not add another sin to his sins (along the line of “that’s so much like you, do this or that or that you can, but than you actually end up in the line of Confessional! Do you think you will not some day do again what you did?”).

    And even if this were safely done, there still would be no guarantee that people go to Confession.

    Something that can, also, safely be done is to require (not, here, suggest; require) youth clubs organized on a parish basis to Confess once a year.

  35. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lin,

    as Chesterton reminded us, charity for the deserving is perhaps included in, but not the point of Christian charity.

    Then, actual need and personal failures are not strictly separated. In the poor, they mostly come together, with some of their failure causing some of their need, bad circumstances causing some others, and a mixture causing the bigger part. The rich have been spared the first but not the second.
    Also, many states have abolished the death penalty, and those who did not reserve it for murder. Laziness, while sinful, does not take away the right of existence. (Even though our drill instructor said we’ve lost the right to existence when we left a button open in the uniform.)

    Put shortly, kicking them in the rear (as the dear @Chicken said) is I daresay sometimes the right thing to do, and often at least a well-intentioned try to care about them. Leaving them lying on the sidewalk (metaphorically speaking) and thinking “I don’t care about you”, well, that’s not.

  36. Lin says:

    @Imrahil. Understood. But there is a very fine line between charity and enabling. We are all poor in our own way. GOD bless you!

  37. JacobWall says:


    “They ought to preach about avoiding being sent there. … And do not, please, preach about hell without giving concrete, realizable advice how to securely and not only probably avoid being sent there.”

    Exactly! This balance is exactly what I hear coming from my pastor these days. “Fire and brimstone” preaching actually help to push me away from the Protestant denominations that like to focus on it. It was precisely the fact that the Catholic Church does not avoid the ideas of “sin” and “hell” (as liberal Protestants do) but also does not dwell on them (as many conservative Protestants do) that was one of the key factors in drawing me towards the Church. Hearing that gentle reminder that they do exist coupled with the reminder of the power of confession and accessibility of complete and “undoubtable” forgiveness was very convincing.

    My pastor has, for example, mentioned that those living in a state of grave mortal sin commit sacrilege if they receive communion, but only to lead into the fact that those in such a position have a clear path towards forgiveness and reconciliation.

    I also agree with what you said about appointments for confession. Even the offer to hear confession before or after Mass for anyone who requests it is less than ideal; most people, even if they’re kind of thinking about it, simply won’t bother to approach the priest if he’s not already in the confessional. Unfortunately, in my parish there isn’t much choice right now, since the priest works with 2 parishes. Perhaps he will find a way to change this eventually.

  38. I would like to join the readers who said that this is a wonderful message from Pope Francis. I also think APX has made a very valid point saying that for some reason Pope Francis’s message about confessions does not seem to be as popular as the washing of women’s feet… :-/ I’m in England and although I live in a big city, it would be difficult here to find opportunity for confession at most parishes outside the Saturday half an hour or hour at most. Unfortunately, although in Europe, sometimes we seem to be further from Rome than the Moon… :( I hope Pope Francis’s message about the light in the confessional will reach priests here.

  39. Eraser says:

    So many people underestimate the wisdom of our Holy Father… Our bishop devoted an entire day to “leaving the light on”, where every church in the diocese was open for confession all day, and the number of penitents far surpassed the estimates. He himself said that he heard numerous confessions of people who had been away from the sacrament for years, if not decades, and many priests reported the same thing. Not long before this, my parish got a new young pastor & one of the first things he did was change the confession schedule from Saturday mornings to Tuesday evenings at 7, apparently in response to parishioner’s requests (he also made a point of hearing them after every Sunday mass during Lent & every night of Holy Week). All of this happened even before the conclave, which is further proof that great minds think alike.

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