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Confessors need to combat 'loss of moral conscience,' Pope tells audience

CWN - March 30, 2011

Priests must dedicate themselves to the sacrament of Penance, to combat “clear signs of a loss of moral conscience” in our age, Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly audience on March 30.

The Holy Father devoted his public audience to the influence of St. Alphonsus Maria of Ligouri (1696- 1787), the patron saint of confessors and moralists. He remarked that St. Alphonsus "never tired of repeating that priests were a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, Who pardons and illuminates the minds and hearts of sinners that they might convert and change their lives.” Noting “a certain lack of respect for the sacrament of Confession,” the Pope said that the teaching of St. Alphonsus nevertheless remains valid, and particularly important as a means of spurring priests to be good confessors.

Pope Benedict said that the works of St. Alphonsus—who left a promising career in law to become a preacher and founder of the Redemptorist order—are “marked marked by a deep Christological and Marian piety, stressed the practice of prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament.” Again, he said, the saint’s advice is particularly valuable in our day.

St. Alphonsus was canonized in 1839 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. Pope Benedict has dedicated his recent weekly public audiences to talks on the doctors of the Church.

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