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Spanish bishop chides clergy: dress like priests and stop communal confessions

.- In a letter sent to all the priests of his diocese, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona exhorted the clergy to foster “the Sacrament of Penance or Confession with the individual confession of sins” and to dress like priests in response to the attempt by many to erase “every one of God’s footprints from the society in which we live.”

He told priests to “never impart collective absolution.  Let us teach young people and children to approach this sacrament frequently,” which he said is a precious resource for personal formation and “for educating consciences in the commandments of God and of his Church.”  

“In each parish there should be specific times throughout the year (not only during Lent and Easter) when the priest is available to hear confessions,” he added.

In speaking about the obligation of priests to dress as such, Bishop Fernandez said that his comments are intended “to remind each of you with all of my affection and respect about what the Church commands of us.  It is a very significant gesture that has to do with many aspects of our entire priestly lives.”

He said that the past era of imposing a style of dress on everyone is “now gone.”  “But it’s not a question of fashion.  I told you during my first Chrism Mass in 2005: ‘I would be so happy to see you dressed unmistakably as priests, and how happy the people are when they can easily identify a priest,’” he said.

“Today many pretend to erase every one of God’s footprints from the society in which we live. Let’s not play their game or contribute to this absence of God,” the bishop warned.  “With simple and austere dress, let us say to everyone that we are priests and that we are happy to be so. It will bring much good to our diocese if we obey God in this area,” he stressed.

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