Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Second Vatican Council decreed that the rite for Reconciliation be revised to “more clearly express the nature and effects of this sacrament.” In 1973 a new ritual was promulgated that not only revised the rite for individual confession, but also added a rite for reconciliation of several penitents with individual confession. This emphasized the relation of the sacrament to the community. The revision also added, for special occasions, a rite of reconciliation of several penitents with general confession and absolution.
Over the years, as general confession and absolution became more frequently used, the Church began to limit its use. The concern was that it was replacing individual confession as the primary way of celebrating this sacrament of God’s mercy and love. Now, use of general confession and absolution requires the permission of one’s bishop.
Our parish has had a long history of celebrating general confession and absolution during Advent and Lent. Hoping to continue this custom, I requested permission from our archbishop to use this form of the sacrament. He has written “While I appreciate your pastoral sensitivity in this matter… I do not believe this rises to the level of pastoral necessity for me to grant the requested permission.”
While some will be disappointed, I hope this will give us an occasion to revisit this ritual of forgiveness and explore anew “the nature and effects of this sacrament.”