As an out of town visitor, I attended a Mass where the pastor generally absolved the congregation of sin, saying that he was showing mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday. He did use the words (or similar words) to those used during Reconciliation. Is such absolution valid? He did not follow up by asking the parishioners to go to Confession. I felt uneasy, because if the absolution is not valid, but the parishioners think it is, they have no reason to follow up with Confession. Are they still in the state of sin?
The absolution is probably valid. It is certainly illicit. Priests are not allowed to give general absolution except in the danger of a disaster that would put such numbers of people at risk that there would not be enough time to hear their Confessions individually. This was certainly not the case at that Church on Divine Mercy Sunday. Someone needs to explain to Father that the Divine Mercy that is celebrated on that day is God’s and not his.
The Church expects those who received absolution that day to mention those sins the next time they go to Confession as an expression of their sorrow and repentance.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.