General Confession


#1

What is the purpose of a General Confession?
Friends of mine are going tomorrow to a nearby parish Church which is offering a General Confession to all. Does this mean that after this Confession the sins of all who are there have been forgiven, that they have been absolved and may receive Communion?


#2

I understand what a General Absolution is because I lived in Hong Kong at the time of the SARS crisis. Masses were stopped and the Archbishop issued General Absolution to all Catholics but they had to subsequently go to Confession individually after the crisis was over. There was not any initial gathering for a General Confession prior to the General Absolution.


#3

I should mention that this General Confession is not on an individual basis. It will be applied to all Catholics gathered at the Church.


#4

This sounds like what is know as a 'Penance service with general absolution'.

They were quite common in my diocese until our Ordinary retired and we had an Apostolic Administrator running our diocese. They usually happened during Advent & Lent, and in most cases where "standing room only" and the only time most present ever participated in the Sacrament. That came to an end, and this year during Lent, all confessionals, in every parish were manned for 8 continuous hours on the Wednesday of Holy Week

There is a provision in Canon Law for this type of service w/ individual confession but it is most certainly not to be used in lieu of regular confession and general absolution is only to be granted in the most extreme of circumstances.

ETA: Ultimately though, it is up to the Bishop to allow or disallow such a service and many factors may be involved in the reason why a service like this is being held as a one time thing.


#5

Such sounds not like a “general confession” but a “general absolution”.

Such normally is not to take place. Such is for emergency type situations. One is obliged in such situations to confess any mortal sins as soon as possible.


#6

Sorry to all. My friends got it wrong. What actually will be happening is that there will be 10 priests at the Church to hear individual confessions for 3 hours two nights in a row so that as many people as possible will be in a state of grace for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.


#7

That’s a good idea for those who’ve been skipping Mass since Easter and just expect to go up to Communion.


#8

And we’ll welcome them with open arms to Mass, so that they’ll be more inclined to come back the next week.


#9

These are fairly common in many parishes in the US during Advent and Lent and are known as "Communal Penace Services. Usually they include opening and closing prayers, an examination of conscience, some times the act of contrition and even the giving of a penance, all in common. There also may be Scripture readings(s), a homily, and sacred music. Each penitent however confesses and receives absolution individually. (A friend of mine was adamant that he would not go because he thought the confession of sins was done in common also:eek:.)

It just so happens I attended the one at my parish earlier this evening. There were seven priests hearing confessions (our pastor and sole priest commented only half kiddingly that he was now obligated to return the favor at six other parishes.) Everything was as I described it above except that tonight everyone received their penance individually.


#10

I’ve been to a Communal Penance Service with 3 individual priests hearing confessions. It started with opening prayers and a reading; but on the other hand, there kinda wasn’t an end (or closing prayers) to it since everyone started going away after confessing their sins!


#11

My understanding is:

General Confession: done individually when someone wishes to confess all the remembered sins of their life for the purposes of a spiritual renewal - sometimes done at a milestone in one’s life - even those sins previously confessed.

General Absolution: Only allowed in rare circumstances, when a large number must receive absolution and individual confessions are not possible, the classic circumstances being a sinking ship or battlefield conditions.

Group / Communal Penance Service: a congregational prayer service which includes individual confessions.

Did I get that right?


#12

:thumbsup:


#13

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:11, topic:347653"]
My understanding is:

General Confession: done individually when someone wishes to confess all the remembered sins of their life for the purposes of a spiritual renewal - sometimes done at a milestone in one's life - even those sins previously confessed.

*General Absolution: Only allowed in rare circumstances, when a large number must receive absolution and individual confessions are not possible, the classic circumstances being a sinking ship or battlefield conditions. *

Group / Communal Penance Service: a congregational prayer service which includes individual confessions.

Did I get that right?

[/quote]

I was one of the Catholics in Hong Kong who received a General Absolution during the SARS crisis. Public gatherings were potentially dangerous and Mass was stopped for weeks.
Our Mass obligation was dispensed with until the SARS crisis was over.


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.