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Diocese sees rise in Confessions

Priests hear Confessions at World Youth Day in Madrid (CNS photo)

The number of people attending Confession has increased in the Diocese of Lancaster following a Lenten initiative.

Lancaster Diocese’s initiative, called the “Light is on for you”, is a high profile celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, by making confession available every Wednesday in Lent, in every Catholic church, between 7 and 8pm.

Fr Robert Billing, the co-coordinator of the ‘Light is on for you’ said: “We’ve had two weeks of Confessions so far in Lent and from asking around the diocese it does seem that there has been a serious rise in confessions.

“Priests have noticed that they are serious Confessions with some devotional. If they hear an average of 12 Confessions, at least three are penitents who have been away from Confession for up to 25 years and four out of the 12 will have been away from Mass and the Church altogether.

“While Confessions are happening we have Holy Hour which has been attended by a core group of parishioners who have come to support people coming back and there have been up to 30 people there for Holy Hour.”

Explaining the purpose of The Light is on for You, Bishop Campbell previously said: “During the Lenten season, in a particular way we are continuing to invite those who seek to strengthen their relationship with the Lord to join us in this celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“Our priests are here to welcome you home, to pray with you, to be of service in the name of Jesus Christ, who offers all of us forgiveness for our sins and the gift of His mercy and love.”

The Vatican has praised the initiative in a letter to Bishop Campbell.

The Congregation for the Clergy in Rome wrote to Bishop Campbell of Lancaster to congratulate him on the evangelisation idea aimed at bringing people back to Confession.

In a letter to Bishop Campbell, Archbishop Celsa Iruzubieta, Secretary to the Congregation, wrote: “The Congregation has received…a copy of Your Lordship’s press release concerning the Lenten initiative The Light is ON for You to encourage the practice of Confession amongst the faithful of the Diocese of Lancaster.

“It is earnestly to be hoped that the initiative will be enthusiastically received and will bring about greater recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the part of all the faithful.”