.- In his pastoral letter, “Lent in Times of Trial,” Archbishop Fernando Sebastian of Pamplona has demanded that priests definitively cease from abusing the practice of general absolution “in which the confession of sins and the direct and personal reception of absolution are suppressed.”
After stressing that the abuse of communal absolutions constitutes “grave disobedience, deceives the faithful and wounds ecclesial communion,” the bishop stressed that Lent is an invitation to repentance of our sins and to obtaining God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Likewise, Archbishop Sebastian recalled, "Nobody, no priest, no group, has the right to modify the norms of the Church regarding how this sacrament should be celebrated,” and he lamented that “the confusion and abuses surrounding this sacrament are causing much harm.”
The norms of the Church, he went on, “require the personal confession of sins to a confessor authorized by the Church and the manifestation of true repentance with a sincere purpose of amendment which prepares us to personally receive from the confessor absolution for our sins by the minister of the Church and in the name of God himself.”
“This way of celebrating the sacrament cannot be modified or substituted by other so-called communitarian forms in which the confession of sins and the direct and personal reception of absolution in the name of God with the formula provided for by the Church are suppressed,” he stated.
The archbishop warned that nobody “has the right to modify the manner of celebrating the sacraments to their own liking without risking their profanation and the loss of their sanctifying force. Whoever acts thus commits serious disobedience, deceives the faithful and wounds ecclesial communion.”
Archbishop Sebastian urged the faithful to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation according to the norms of the Church. “Without this practice there can be no spiritual growth in Christians nor will we ever be able to promote spiritually vibrant parish communities,” he said.