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St. John ends General Absolution.

St. John, NB--Bishop Faber MacDonald has issued a directive on Reconciliation and General Absolution for the diocese of St. John (New Freeman, Feb. 2,9,16, 23). For over a year there has been a controversy on the widespread use of General Absolution in the diocese. Bishop MacDonald and the Council of Priests studied the matter at three separate meetings but made only minimal progress; this prompted the bishop to issue his directive.

The document, to be effective immediately, limits the celebration of General Absolution to situations which are "only in accord with canonical norms", the primary example being where danger of death is imminent.

The bishop explains that he has become increasingly concerned with the neglect of personal confession within his diocese, with the resultant "danger of slipping into ways of unchecked denial" on the part of individual Catholics. He quotes from Pope John Paul II's document, Nova Millennio Inuente: "It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance." The Pope further states, "The Lord, as Divine Shepherd, has a right to meet the disciple personally. The individual, in turn, has a right to be personally encountered."

Bishop MacDonald particularly notes that those who do not make verbal confession often evidence "lack of peace, freedom and reconciliation with God. They have not experienced the release or the unbinding 'power of the keys"'.

Last March, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued its own worldwide directive restricting General Absolution to conditions of canonical norms only. In October, Archbishop Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke to the Canadian bishops on the matter.

Last year, General Absolution was ended in the dioceses of Nova Scotia. It is still in widespread use in the province of Quebec.
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Title Annotation:St. John, New Brunswick: limiting of General Absolution
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CNBR
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Words:301
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