.- Responding to a string of television programs promoting Confession over the internet, the Bishops Conference of Peru said this week the Sacrament of Reconciliation requires the physical presence of the penitent and the priest. In a statement, the bishops recalled that Reconciliation was instituted by Jesus Christ “to erase the sins committed after Baptism,” and that in order to receive it, in addition to its inherent requirements, “the physical presence of the priest and the manifestation of his sins to the priest in person” are obligatory.
“In no case can long distance, complete confession of grave sins or absolution of a priest be considered valid by the Catholic Church,” the bishops emphasized. They went on to cite the document of February 22, 2002, published by the Pontifical Council on Social Communications on the Church and the Internet, which points out that, “virtual reality cannot substitute for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, nor the sacramental reality of the other sacraments, nor the worship shared in a human community of flesh and bones.”
“Sacraments on the internet do not exist,” the text adds. “Even religious experiences that are possible there through the grace of God are insufficient if they are separated from interaction in the real world with other persons of faith.”