DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     March 16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 52

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) – Pope John Paul II reiterated the necessity of individual confession during a talk to participants in a course on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

          Speaking on March 13 to young priests and seminarians taking part in an annual course organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, Holy Father said: "It is necessary to make one’s confession before approaching the Eucharist whenever one is conscience of having committed mortal sin." The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the top ecclesiastical tribunals at the Vatican, responsible for problems of "the internal forum"—in other words, the forgiveness of sins and indulgences.

          The Pope said that "it is God’s will that the forgiveness of sins and restoration to divine friendship should be accomplished through the work of the Church." He illustrated his point by citing the words of Jesus to Peter: "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven."

          Someone conscious of grave sin, the Pope continued, must confess his sins before receiving the Eucharist if he hopes to do so "licitly and fruitfully." He explained that while the sinner may obtain God’s forgiveness immediately if he is truly sorry for his sin, "he must have the intention of accusing himself as soon as possible in the sacrament of Reconciliation." He added that general absolution carries no value unless it is preceded by an individual confession of any grave sins.

          For lesser faults— venial sins—sacramental confession is not technically necessary. But the sacrament still is "extremely useful," because the penitent can find special help in avoiding future sins. Therefore the faithful have the "right" to confess venial sins, he stressed, and that right corresponds to an obligation on the part of the confessor. Through the steady practice of confession, even of venial sins, the penitent can experience great spiritual growth, the Pope said, adding that the sacrament is "a school which forms great saints."

          "I hope that the Jubilee Year will be an occasion for all the faithful to approach the sacrament of Reconciliation, thanks to the generous service of priest-confessors," the Pope concluded as he ended his address.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

March 16, 1999       volume 10, no. 52


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