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1. Winnipeg--Directly contrary to the views of the Church (see Vatican, above), Father Renato Pasinato of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface is reported to be teaching not only that the weekly reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a misuse, but that the Sacrament itself has now become irrelevant. According to him, the decline in confessions reflects that to today's Catholic it "doesn't mean anything." In this respect "vox populi, vox Dei" (the voice of the people is the voice of God), he declared. This, he says, has nothing to do with a decline of sin. It's the Church's fault for insisting on something that is irrelevant to us and not answering our needs. ("Priest outlines the history of Confession," Prairie Messenger, March 22; Catholic Register, Mar. 22, '99, printed without comments.)

2. Toronto--In March, 1999, the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education sent to the Toronto clergy a statement made by eighteen American bishops, various liturgists, representatives of the Vatican Congregations for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments, and various scholars. The statement was published by the United States Catholic Conference in early 1999.

After showing the importance of the Sacrament of Penance it considers certain particular aspects of it, no doubt because of contemporary aberrations. It states that a Confession is valid only if all mortal sins are confessed. And Confessors should not ask penitents to confess only one sin. Nor should confessors, at penance services where there is individual confession, have all penitents automatically receive the same penance, or have one absolution for all penitents.

As for general absolution, it is "designed for extreme situations," not just for large numbers of penitents when not enough priests are available. It applies to situations in which penitents would have no other way of getting to the Sacrament or to Holy Communion for a long period (in the United States this means for at least a month). Moreover, it requires the bishop's approval.

As well, penitents who receive general absolution must confess their mortal sins in a private confession "at the earliest possible opportunity." Individual confession and absolution remains the "only ordinary way by which the faithful person who is aware of serious sin is reconciled with God and the Church."


If a person receives absolution at a general absolution he must be properly disposed and must also resolve to confess all mortal sins in a personal confession in due time; otherwise these sins are not forgiven (Canon Law, #962).

Some clergy say that the phrases "in due time" or "at the earliest opportunity" mean "within a year," but this is wrong. It means at the first reasonable available opportunity. It belongs to the bishops of an area to be precise about this time.

According to Canon Law, #963, "a person whose grave sins are forgiven in a general absolution, is as soon as possible, when the opportunity occurs, to make an individual confession before receiving another general absolution, unless a just reason intervenes."

Though only bishops may decide when a general absolution can be given, they must allow it only when the law permits it. Rome reiterated this rule in March (see under Australia).
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Title Annotation:administration of sacrament of penance in Canadian Catholic Church
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 1999
Previous Article:Annulments in Toronto (Canada).
Next Article:Deaths of theologians.

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