|Confession in need of reform?|
‘Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor believes that Confession is in need of significant reform and should be discussed at a special synod on the sacraments.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster has called for “proper reform to the sacrament” and says Confession has not received “serious reflection by any authoritative people within the Church” despite declining numbers of Catholics making use of the sacrament.'
The remarks come in a private letter to the Cambridge academic and author John Cornwell, who is campaigning for a ban on childhood Confession and who sent the cardinal a new book he has written on the sacrament.
Mr Cornwell, who says he was the victim as a boy of sexual solicitation by a confessor, has written an open letter to Pope Francis calling for a ban.
A spokeswoman for the cardinal stressed that he was not endorsing an end to childhood Confession, had not read Mr Cornwell’s book when he replied to the author, and in no way associated himself with the letter to the Pope.
The spokeswoman told The Tablet the issue should be discussed by bishops from around the world. “The cardinal believes that Confession could be considered as a topic for an Episcopal Synod on Sacramental Life. [He] thinks there needs to be much serious reflection in the Church as to why people are not going to Confession and what would encourage them to return to the Sacrament.”
Right. Well, we can all agree that the Church might reflect seriously, at the Synod on Sacramental Life, on the urgent need to promote the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession, that enables we Catholics to 'reform' our lives by this glorious Sacrament of healing and forgiveness as the Lord Jesus, by His free gift, crowns those who are contrite and make a firm purpose of amendment, with mercy and reconciliation with God and strength in the spiritual warfare in which we Catholics are all engaged.
However, quite what 'proper reform of the Sacrament' in this age, in which prelates of the Church promote a form of light, or even counterfeit Catholicism, would look like is the stuff of nightmares. May God grace those in authority in Holy Mother Church to meditate and reflect seriously on this great gift from Christ to His Church, but also to protect this Sacrament from any human interference that may harm it under the guise of 'reform'. As a Catholic Cardinal, there was no higher authority in the United Kingdom during his time at Westminster.
As Deacon Nick has suggested, if the guidance of Holy Tradition, as well as Blessed Pope John Paul II on promoting this Sacrament of mercy and grace was generally unheeded by this prelate during his reign at Westminster, by a retired prelate who is said to be privileged enough to have the ear of His Holiness Pope Francis, then perhaps he himself might reflect seriously on who may take some share of the blame if the Church continues to see 'declining numbers of Catholics making use of the sacrament.'