Loading
'Papal bounce' credited for increase in British confessions
Pope Francis welcomes Benedict XVI back to the Vatican at Mater Ecclesia monastery on May 2, 2013. Credit: L'Ossevatore Romano/ANSA.
Pope Francis welcomes Benedict XVI back to the Vatican at Mater Ecclesia monastery on May 2, 2013. Credit: L'Ossevatore Romano/ANSA.

.- Catholic clergy in England and Wales say more people are going to confession, and many credit both Pope Francis' election and Benedict XVI's 2010 papal visit for inspiring the trend.

“This summer there has been a marked difference in demand compared to last summer...We don’t usually offer confessions in August but have done this year,” one priest said in response to a telephone survey conducted by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales' Home Mission Desk.

The informal survey of 22 Catholic cathedrals in England and Wales sought reports from cathedral deans, priests-in-residence or designated staff members.

One respondent said there is “definitely” an increase in lapsed Catholics seeking to return to religious practice under Pope Francis.

Another credited a “papal bounce” and the “great sense of hope and enthusiasm” prompted by Francis’ election. He cited the Pope’s easy manner of engagement with people, saying this has “a huge impact.”

The same respondent suggested the increase also reflects the influence of Benedict XVI, whose visit to the U.K. had “such a profound effect.”

Pope Francis drew praise for his “approachable manner,” for having a “good connection” to those not in the Church and for “talking their language.”

About 65 percent of respondents to the survey said confessions had increased either because of the impact of Pope Benedict’s September 2010 visit or the election of Pope Francis. Thirty percent attributed the increase to the effects of both Popes.

Another 15 percent said Pope Benedict’s visit was a driving factor, while ten percent said the increase was due to the election of Pope Francis. Ten percent did not comment on the increase or said they weren’t sure what caused it. Another 35 percent reported no increase, but said the number of confessions was steady.

One respondent said their cathedral's Holy Week Reconciliation Service drew 25 percent more people, many of whom had lapsed from regular religious practice.

“They hadn’t been to confession for a number of years and suddenly they felt the urge to come,” the respondent said.

Besides the influence of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, respondents also credited other factors in the increase in confession, such as priests speaking and preaching more about confession, self-examination among the penitents, and changing the time confession was offered.

Respondents did not neglect to point out that God also works in moving people to confess their sins. One participant also reflected on confession's effects on those who have not gone in years.

“I think very often those who have been away from the sacrament for a long time are very often surprised and delighted to find it such a positive and affirming experience,” the respondent said.

“People just recently, who were expecting to struggle, or be met by an indifferent response from the priest, were struck how their experience was completely different. It is one of the many positive signs concerning the sacrament.”

Study participants said that many returning Catholics did not know what to say and some feared not knowing the prayers.

The survey found increased attendance at some weekday and Sunday Masses. Some people have become interested in becoming Catholic after Catholic friends and family brought them to church.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, who heads the England and Wales bishops’ Department for Evangelization and Catechesis, has called on every parish to reach out to the countries’ four million baptized Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass, the bishops’ conference reports.

“While the lapsation of baptized is not new within the Catholic community, the worry and anxiety experienced by parents, siblings and grandparents of non-churchgoing baptized, is deep and heartfelt,” Bishop Conry said Sept. 2. “We all hold in our hearts at least one person in our family who seems disconnected from the life of the Church.”

He encouraged practicing Catholics to use materials available at their parish church to help them reach out to non-practicing Catholics. He invited lapsed Catholics to come back to church and not be “afraid to embarrass themselves by doing the wrong thing.”

“I would say to them, don’t worry, come in and see. Sit at the back and do what the rest do. You might be pleasantly surprised.”

The Catholic Church in England and Wales observes Home Mission Sunday this Sept. 15, a day of prayer and celebration for the work of evangelization.

Bishop Conry told the Daily Telegraph that “significant numbers” of young people are going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He said this is “a good sign” that means they are connected with church even if they are sometimes not regular Sunday massgoers.

He said confession has moved away from having a “mechanistic shopping list” approach of listing one's sins and more a way to improve one’s relationship with God.

Tags: Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Confession


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
19

Liturgical Calendar

April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Gospel
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Gen 1:1-2:2
Gospel:: Mt 28:1-10

Saint of the Day

Blessed James Oldo »

Saint
Date

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Homily
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: