Thanks for all those useful replies and links. Unfortunately, it seems that a priest (or bishop) could interpret things in such a way that ‘confession on request’ fulfills the priest’s obligation to be always available to hear confession. An unfortunate effect of this would be to discourage, rather than encourage people to attend Confession, as many people do not want to bother the priest in this way and will only go if there is a regular time for Confession in a Confessional box in their parish. This hardly fulfills what is supposed to be the duty of a priest to ‘promote’ Confession.
Bcuster, you make an interesting point regarding the 1973 revised rite of Confession. I was never aware of this, until a priest I met on a course recently told me about it and how he would like to use this in his parish, but everyone who comes into his Confession just starts off, “Bless me Father for I have sinned…” and he can’t get a look in with introducing scripture.
I do think that we are getting let down with regards to Confession and that the CDW should give some instruction to the effect that the general norm should be at least one regular weekly slot for a small, one-priest parish, with medium and larger parishes requiring more slots, in addition to Confession on request from the Faithful.