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Confession drive for Lent in England and Wales

By Ann Marie Foley - 27 February, 2014

Priest-hears-ConfessionThe number of people going to confession in England and Wales has risen but many penitents no longer know how to prepare for the sacrament or what to say, according to Bishop Kieran Conry.

Bishop Conry is leading the Confession 2014 drive in Britain to encourage people back to confession this Lent.

He is keen to highlight how a mobile phone app can help people to prepare to make a good confession.

“I’ve observed in recent years that more young people, in particular, are celebrating the sacrament with an increasing number using digital apps to help them prepare and guide them through,” he said. 

“There are a number of digital tools available to help people. The priest is not in the confessional to judge you, but to help you celebrate God’s forgiveness and freedom. There is nothing that you can say that he won’t have heard before,” Bishop Conry explained.

Last year, media coverage of the launch of a new phone app incorrectly gave many the idea that they could go to confession via the app and a priest was not needed.

However, in reality, the app only leads the penitent through prayers – which can be read on the phone screen – before confession, or helps them make an examination of conscience. The prayers also help people with what to say during the sacrament. But using the app is not a substitute for the sacrament.

A survey carried out last summer (2013) in the UK among cathedral-based confessors highlighted that many people don’t know what to say because it might have been 20 years since their last confession and they need help with the words.

The Bishops in England and Wales are highlighting that as Lent starts on 5 March, this is the time in the Church’s year traditionally associated with repentance and forgiveness.

They are providing new materials to encourage people to go along and rediscover confession as a channel of God’s love and mercy.

The Bishop’s new Confession 2014  initiative has as its central message: “Nothing you confess could make me love you less. Come before Him with trust in His mercy.”

These words feature on downloadable parish posters and invitation cards, along with a quote from Pope Francis.

There are also video testimonies including one by Margaret Mizen, whose son was murdered in May 2008.

Reflecting on the meaning of forgiveness in light of her family’s loss, she shared, “Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, ‘forgiveness is the best form of self-interest’ and believe me it is. When you don’t forgive, you’ve this weight on your shoulders and it pulls you down. When you forgive and learn to let go, your eyes are opened to a whole new world.”

A two-part teaching video featuring the Rt Rev John Arnold (Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster) is also provided online as well as extracts from the Bible, Catechism, additional Pope Francis quotes, a ‘how to’ confession guide, a powerpoint presentation for groups, daily tweets for Lent, an email banner, image gallery, research summary, articles and links.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation materials can be accessed at: www.catholicnews.org.uk/confession

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