Bp. Egan (D. Portsmouth): GO TO CONFESSION!

From the great Bp. Philip Egan of the Diocese of Portsmouth (England) comes this!

Go to Confession regularly, bishop urges diocese

The Bishop of Portsmouth has appealed to his diocese to attend Confession regularly in a pastoral letter, which will be read out in all churches across the diocese on Sunday February 14.

In his letter, Bishop Philip Egan writes: “I need to speak to you about something serious that some of you will no doubt find provocative. Pope Francis, in the document establishing the Year of Mercy, said: ‘During the Jubilee Year, the season of Lent should …be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy.’ Now my question to you is this: When did you last go to Confession? How on Earth can we be sure to experience personally One-to-one the mercy of God, without at some point – and I would say regularly, even once a month – celebrating this Sacrament?”

Bishop Philip went on to say: “Let’s be candid: Jesus did not come to call virtuous people. This is why we all need regularly to examine our consciences, to review our thoughts, words and deeds, to take stock of our attitudes and life-style. Sin is not like a stain to be dry-cleaned or a law infringed. Sin is a lack of love or lovelessness. Sin is often an omission rather than a commission. Think of it like ‘missing the mark.”

Bishop Egan said that he was not making his remarks “to make you feel bad, ashamed or guilty.”

But “simply to encourage you this Lent to receive the joy of God’s mercy. I hope that one lasting grace from this Holy Year will be a renewal of this breathtaking Sacrament.”

He also announced that on the weekend of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Pope has asked the whole Church to undertake 24 Hours for the Lord and so all clergy in the diocese will nominate one church in each Pastoral Area to host 24 hours of Eucharistic Adoration, with Confessions at designated times.


For the full Pastoral Letter, HERE.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Egan.

I hope where you are your priests and bishops are speaking and writing like this about the Sacrament of Penance.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Patti Day says:

    If only every diocese would do likewise.

  2. Mark says:

    “Sin is a lack of love or lovelessness.”
    I struggle with this. I often feel like I obey the letter of the law and go thru the motions but my heart is cold. I do go to confession, but I do not feel like I am experiencing a true conversion towards God. Please pray for me.

  3. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I had the privilege of going to Confession yesterday at St. Joseph’s Oratory. Although it isn’t 24-hour , the sacrament of Reconciliation is made available at the Oratory daily ( from 7:00 am-12:45 pm, then 2:30 pm – 5:0 pm and from 7:00 pm-7:45 pm , Sunday from 6:45 am -5:30 pm , then 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm ).

    It’s such a blessing to have the sacrament available when we really need it . . . which, in my case , averages out to more frequently than once a month.

  4. Trisagion says:

    I don’t know about the priests but this deacon of that diocese preached about it at five Masses last Sunday and I suspect your more frequent commenter and also a deacon of Bp Egan’s diocese, Deacon Augustine, does so frequently too. It’s nice to know that we’re on the same page as our boss!

  5. Elizium23 says:

    January 25, 2013: our extraordinary ordinary, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, promulgated his pastoral letter, “Apostles of Mercy“, addressed to all priests in the diocese, to make Confession abundantly available to all the faithful.

    How prescient that our bishop should focus on mercy and Confession even before Pope Francis came on the scene and made it the focus of his pontificate.

  6. Nicolas Bellord says:

    A great Bishop. I hope some of his initiatives spill across into our adjoining diocese of Arundel and Brighton under our new Bishop Richard Moth.

    One problem with confession is its availability which is not great if you live in the country. If I go to London there is Westminster Cathedral. Sometimes the queues are long which is something one should put up with good grace. However sometimes the queues are short but goodness me do people take their time – perhaps a quarter of an hour or more. Well I suppose it means I can say more prayers than am likely to get as a penance! But I do wonder whether for those like me who just rattle off a list and are out in three minutes there should be a separate confessional marked ‘Basket cases only’ or ‘Less than 5 venial sins’? I once saw a precedent some fifty years ago in the Cathedral of Salamanca where there was a confessional marked “Reserved sins only” — well I am not sure it said ‘only’.

  7. Tony Phillips says:

    Not disagreeing with what the bishop said, but one thing about pastoral letters–they’re boring. Every time I expect a homily only to hear the priest say, ‘This week we have a pastoral letter from…’ my heart goes into a tailspin.
    It would be so much better if they just printed those things in the bulletin or linked them on-line. Getting something read at you just isn’t the same. (Notice that we only get the Epistles in small chunks.)

    The way I see it, if the bishop has something to tell us, he can get in his car and drive down and tell us. We never see the guy, truth be told, and it’s been like that in every UK and US diocese I’ve lived in.

    Availability of confession–yeah, that’s a problem. Most parishes should have noticed that Saturday afternoons have dropped off. But pastors seem afraid of offering confession on Sundays because they might over-run with the beginning of Mass (and heaven forbid some would-be penitent should miss out on the opportunity to join in verse 1 of ‘Gather Us In’!)

  8. msc says:

    Along with encouraging people to go to confession, our leaders need to offer some modern, clear guidelines as to what are confessionable sins. I have looked at some lists that are, frankly, ridiculous, and that a good many people would not be able to take seriously. They also need to prioritize clearly those sins. When someone looks at a list ten pages long that would make a serious contemplation of one’s sins next to impossible it can only discourage that person. I’m not saying that the Church needs to legitimize longstanding sins, only that people need good, effective guidance as to what to confess and what to give priority to. At the same time, the Church needs to state clearly what it considers mortal sins. Being too general gives people too much discretion to say that something isn’t a sin. As a sometime teacher, I liken it to the need these days not just to tell my students to avoid academic misconduct, but to let them know what constitutes that and why those things are considered wrong. We can’t presume that Catholics know these things.

  9. Simon_GNR says:

    Portsmouth is my “mother diocese”, i.e. the one in which I became a member of the Catholic Church. That diocese is very fortunate to have such a good man as their bishop. It’s years since I heard an exhortation from the pulpit to go to confession in my diocese of the last 26 years (Hallam, England).
    I don’t suppose it has anything to do with *laziness* on the part of priests, has it? The more people coming to confession the more work it is for them. Priests are only human and perhaps they’re subject to the same human weakness of laziness as anyone else?

  10. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Well our Bishop Richard Moth in the adjoining diocese of Arundel & Brighton came up trumps to-day with a pastoral letter that could be summarised as GO TO CONFESSION. Previously a Bishop to the Forces he seems to be bringing some much needed military discipline to our much-damaged diocese in the gentlest way.

    Unlike Tony Philips above I welcome a pastoral letter in place of a homily sometimes. Our Bishop records it so we hear it on tape as well as providing a written copy of it. I do not think one can expect more unless he is into bi-location or rather multi-location!

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