A queue for confession in St Bede's, Clapham Park.
My latest for LifeSiteNews.
During the coronavirus epidemic, many Catholics have been cut off from the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). Confession has been so neglected in recent decades that the amount of controversy this has created is a small sign of hope.
Also pleasing is the spotlight it has shone on the concept of an ‘act of perfect contrition’. ‘Perfect contrition’ is simply being sorry for our sins out of our love for God, and not merely for other reasons, such as disgust at sin or fear of its consequences. If a penitent has perfect contrition his sins are forgiven, though he retains an obligation to confess any mortal sins in the usual way. (There is more about this and related issues here.)
Much less reassuring, however, has been the reaction of some bishops, several of whom have placed severe restrictions on the hearing of confession, which seem to go beyond what is required by the civil authorities or prudence. Other bishops have taken a different view.