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Number of Confessions in England and Wales is on the rise, says report

Pope Francis hears the confession of a young woman during World Youth Day (CNS)

The number of Catholics attending Confession is on the rise, according to a survey carried out by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The Home Mission Desk reported that in a telephone and email survey of 22 Catholic cathedrals in England and Wales, 65 per cent reported an increase in the number of people attending Confession.

Cathedral deans or priests in residence said the reasons for the rise were the papal visit in 2010 and the election of Pope Francis in March.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, the chairman of the bishops’ conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said Confession had changed since he was a boy, which might account for the increase in attendance.

He told the Times: “I remember going as a child and simply reeling off a list of sins, grave or less grave, and sometimes making them up, just for something to say, and you’d use a list someone else had compiled and things that meant sometimes very little or nothing. ‘I’ve been angry’ – well, first of all, anger can’t be a sin, it’s an emotional response. So we are confessing things that weren’t sinful and sometimes confessing trivial things just for something to say. But now we have a much more individual, personal conversation with the priest.”

Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, Kent, said: “I have also noticed a rise in Confessions, particularly among young adults who are sincerely trying to live a good life. It is important to preserve the core meaning of the sacrament which is the forgiveness of sins. We can always have a more general chat outside of Confession.”