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Confession should be top priority, Cardinal Dolan tells USCCB members

Catholic World News - November 12, 2012

In his presidential address on the opening day of the US bishops’ annual meeting, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York recommended a determined effort to bring Catholics back to regular use of the sacrament of Penance.

Cardinal Dolan observed that the US bishops have “a lot on our plate” as they begin their meeting. He mentioned the bishops’ efforts for “human life, the defense of marriage, the promotion of human dignity in the lives of the poor, the immigrant, those in danger from war and persecution throughout the world, and our continued efforts to defend our first and most cherished freedom.”

However, the cardinal insisted that Church leaders should put “first things first,” and be mindful of their spiritual role. The first priority, he said, must be to serve Jesus Christ.

We cannot engage culture unless we let Him first engage us; we cannot dialogue with others unless we first dialogue with Him; we cannot challenge unless we first let Him challenge us.

Cardinal Dolan said that the work of bishops should begin with the call to conversion, emphasizing prayer and penance. He dwelt at length on Confession, noting that the sacrament “evangelizes the evangelizers.”

“What an irony that despite the call of the Second Vatican Council for a renewal of the Sacrament of Penance, what we got instead was its near disappearance,” the cardinal said.

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  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Nov. 14, 2012 11:59 AM ET USA

    That the US Bishops are discussing confession at all is, in my opinion, a sign of encouragement. The future of Catholicism in the US depends on how many Catholics--including high level prelates--are serious about the supernatural life; the life of grace. Without being supernaturally alive neither our Communions or our prayers profit anything in the sight of God. If more Catholics were in a state of grace perhas more grace could be won through prayers for the reevangelization of culture.

  • Posted by: dagbat - Nov. 12, 2012 11:04 PM ET USA

    It is refreshing to see Cardinal Dolan taking the lead in reacquainting his fellow Bishops with the importance of confession and calling on them to once again become active promoters of confession to their Catholic congregations. This new emphasis on confession is long overdue given the significant decline in confessions since Vatican II and its disastrous impact on a full generation of Catholics who now think that they can personally absolve themselves of sin and who are clueless regarding mortal sin and its consequences to attaining salvation. The Bishops must reacquaint Catholics to the concept of sin (especially serious sin) and its direct linkage to priestly confession as the only way to receive full absolution. That every Catholic is personally accountable for his or her sins and must go to confession to receive absolution. That if a Catholic is in a state of SERIOUS sin they can NOT receive Holy Communion. Finally the Bishops must provide clear direction and training to their priests on how to use the confessional as way of providing the penitent with loving guidance and teaching that is in line with traditional Catholicism and with the Pope’s call for a new evangelization.

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