Catholic World News

Archbishop Dolan issues pastoral letter on Confession

March 29, 2011

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has issued a pastoral letter on the Sacrament of Penance.

The letter, reprinted in the new issue of Origins, calls upon all Catholics to make a good confession before Easter. “Not everything was perfect decades ago when most Catholics routinely went to confession – perhaps too routinely,” Archbishop Dolan said. “But whatever problems existed in the 1950s are now a half-century in the past, and subsequent generations have grown up without any knowledge of whatever excesses may have existed. They have indeed grown up without what belongs to them as part of the patrimony as Catholics – the liberating, joyful experience of God’s mercy in the sacrament of penance.”

Quoting Blessed John Henry Newman, Archbishop Dolan added that “the Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

“I encourage you to make a good confession before Easter,” Archbishop Dolan concluded. “Even if it has been a long time. Come home to our Father! Be reconciled to God through the ministry of his Church! Don’t wait to change your life! You can hope in our Father’s mercy. You can trust in his pledge of grace to help you lead a better life. In the early Church, they called confession the ‘second conversion in tears.’ St. Peter wept in sorrow after denying Jesus, and in his mercy Christ spoke to him the tender words of his pardon and peace. In the sacrament, we too can hear these words!”

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  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Mar. 30, 2011 12:32 AM ET USA

    An inspiring letter by Archbishop Dolan encouraging the Church of New York - priests, religious and laity - to contemplate the wonderful gift of the sacrament of confession Christ gave his Church. Regretably many fail to appreciate the redemptive power of the sacrament because they have lost a sense of the seriousness of sin and therefore the need for forgiveness, renewal and change in their lives. His words to his brother priests to celebrate and promote this sacrament are quite moving.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Mar. 29, 2011 11:15 PM ET USA

    I hope people accept the invitation and receive the joy of forgiveness and reconciliation.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 29, 2011 4:44 PM ET USA

    Maybe it would behoove the Archbishop to take his own counsel in regard to Confession...condoning giving Communion to a public sinner would seem to me to be worth the trip!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 29, 2011 10:08 AM ET USA

    Re: “Not everything was perfect decades ago when most Catholics routinely went to confession – perhaps too routinely,” The bishop seems to be hiding behind the word "perhaps." Either criticize the Church or say nothing at all. To make a half assertion is cowardly at best. Besides, I do not see its relevance with people's need to start going to confession now.