Monday, November 13, 2006

Why Confess Sins to Anyone Besides God?

The Pope gave some clues earlier this week as he met with the Bishops of Switzerland who are in the Vatican for their five-yearly visit.

He asked priests “to rigorously observe the Church's norms on the sacrament of penance, in particular, those affecting general absolution.” He spoke of "the crisis the sacrament of reconciliation is going through" and urged the prelates "to relaunch in your dioceses a penitential pastoral program which encourages individual confession."

Benedict XVI said: "Exhort the faithful to frequent the sacrament of penance regularly, which enables one to discover the gift of God's mercy and pushes one to be merciful as he is toward others."

Confession "helps us to form our conscience, to fight against our evil inclinations, to allow ourselves to be healed by Christ, to progress in the life of the Spirit," the Holy Father said quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Indeed, individual confessions are a rare phenomenon in the lives of many Catholics today. If in fact confession helps in the areas mentioned by Benedict XVI, then no doubt neglect of this sacrament accounts for much of the weak and tragic spirituality of today.

Perhaps what is needed is a fresh look at the practice of “confession.”

Protestants have a long list of objections to Catholic teaching regarding confession.

The short (and scriptural) version on why Catholics confess their sins to a priest.

A very brief guide for the Catholic on the practice of confession is here.

We keep this method that a penitent relates certain sins that bother him the most. Even if thousands and thousands of worlds belonged to me, I would lose everything rather than give up the smallest part of confession in the church. Yes, rather would I accept the Papal tyranny on Fasts, Celebrations, Vestments, Cities, Plates, and Hats and whatever I could bear without destruction of the faith than that confession should be taken from the Christians.

Martin Luther 1533 “Warning to Certain People in Frankfurt am Main”
WA 30III:566, 29-30 and 569, 6-11.

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