Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

CONFESSION-GIROTTI Jan-30-2012 (440 words) xxxi

Confession: Celebration of mercy, not trial before prosecution


Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh hears a young woman's confession during a pro-life youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washington Jan. 23. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Priests hearing confessions need to replace any negative or aggressive attitudes with meekness and mercy toward the penitent, said a Vatican expert on confession.

The sacrament of reconciliation "has led to a unilateral overemphasis on the accusation and listing of sins," said Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that handles issues related to the sacrament of penance.

The end result is that "the thing that is absolutely central when listening to sin, that is, the blessed embrace of the merciful Father, is put on the backburner," he said.

The Italian bishop's comments, published Jan. 28 in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, were made in his address to a symposium for confessors held in Loreto, Italy.

"Isn't it true perhaps that at times confession takes on the semblance of a prosecuting tribunal rather than a celebration of forgiveness," and that the conversation takes on "inquisitorial or, in any case, indelicate tones," he asked.

A confessor is first and foremost a father who welcomes, listens and engages in dialogue, he said.

People going to confession "are seeking comfort, advice and forgiveness," he said. Often they are dealing with problems in their personal life or in their relationships; concerns about contraception, separation or divorce; or difficulties between parent and child, he said.

"As confessors we are called to show mercy and hope, to be fathers more than judges, to take on the penitent's pain and listen with much patience," he said.

"All of this has nothing to do with being lax or permissive," he said, "rather it focuses on the inner liberation of the penitent," their feelings of remorse and repentance, and facilitating their reception of judgment, grace and mercy from God.

Bishop Girotti said a confessor "would commit a serious injustice" if he dared let his judgment and advice to the penitent be influenced more by his own personal opinions and viewpoints than by church teaching and doctrine.

Priests must carefully control their reaction, including facial expressions and gestures, when hearing confession, he said.

The confessor should imitate Christ's gentleness and never display a sense of shock no matter how grave the sin, he said. The confessor must never pry for personal details, never show impatience or be in a hurry, and should instill a healthy fear of God, but not terror and should condemn the sin, not the sinner, he added.

Penitents open their heart and soul to the confessor because they see him as being "God's minister, and if instead they find in him severity, not mercy, or doubts and obscurity, and not the light of truth, they will have been truly deceived."

END


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250