Most people who commune don't confess once a year
Every time we stand in the line of a confessional, we fight relativism, because we publicly declare that good and evil are not equal: good is done, bad is confessed.
The Catholic sociologist specializing in religious behavior Massimo Introvigne has written an article in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana noting that the debate about the communion of divorced people living together with someone who before God and the Church is not their spouse is a debate that obscures the underlying issue: that millions and millions of Catholics, they will commune regularly for more than a year without confessing, and it is statistically reasonable to think that they commune while in mortal sin.
As a sociologist, Introvigne refers to study data on the subject in the United States, Italy and some Northern European countries (does not use data from Spain or Latin America).
What divorcees do... and other sinners
"According to a survey I conducted for La Nuova Bussola quotidian, we find that in 75% of Italian parishes, the divorced and remarried communicate regularly, without waiting for the Synod to eventually change the doctrine. Readers have contacted me, and several bishops and they have confirmed that the study is an accurate picture of what is happening in their dioceses, some of which have led me to reflect on a more generalized problem. of the iceberg, the real problem is that most people who commune do not frequent the sacrament of Confession, "writes Introvigne.
What the Church Teaches
The Catechism is clear: in its paragraph 1457 He recalls that "every faithful man at the age of reason must faithfully confess his grave sins at least once a year."
"Anyone aware of being in grave sin that does not commune the Body of the Lord without first going to sacramental confession," he insists, although he nuances "unless there is a serious motive and there is no possibility of confessing; and, in this case, keep in mind that you are obliged to do an act of perfect contrition, which includes the purpose of confessing as soon as possible."
It is difficult for a Catholic never to confess because he has usually at least done so once before the First Communion, as the Catechism asks: "Children must access the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time". But it is statistically common that many in their adult life have never returned to confessional.
Catechism even proposes frequent confession and less serious sins, although traditionally the Church, referring to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas (and st. Augustine's) considers that these venial sins can also be referred to as other practices that are carried out "with devotion". Father Ripalda's classic catechism thus listed these practices:
1. Hear Mass with devotion.
2. Commune with dignity.
3. Hear the word of God.
4. Episcopal Blessing.
5. Say the Our Father.
6. General confession ("I confess to God and before you brethren...")
7. Holy water.
8. Blessed bread (the one blessed on Holy Thursday)
9. Chest blows (such as those performed ritually when praying the "I confess..."
The current Catechism points out at point 1458 that:
"Without being strictly necessary, the confession of venial sins is strongly recommended by the Church." The habitual confession of venial sins helps to form a conscience, to fight against bad inclinations, to allow oneself to be healed by Christ, to progress in the life of the Spirit When the gift of the Father's mercy is received frequently through this sacrament, the believer is impelled to be also merciful".
But this recommendation of "habitual confession" and "reception frequently", and even the ecclesial commandment to "confess at least once a year" collide with the actual statistic.
US: almost half commune without ever confessing
The Italian sociologist first turns to the data from the United States, from Georgetown University's CARA Center (cara.georgetown.edu) to point out that "among the American Catholics who commune, those who confess at least once a year, which is not much, but that's already something, it was 15% in 2009 and it fell to 12% in 2013".
"45% of people who do in the US have never confessed after coming of age", Introvigne adds.
"There are no statistics as concrete as Georgetown's in Europe, but there are regional studies in Germany, France, and the Netherlands suggesting even lower percentages than Americans. Some surveys are known to confess only 5% of murders in areas of Northern Europe once a year. As in other areas, developing countries could be expected to be saved, but according to the data coming from Pakistan, where there is a living and enthusiastic Church of Martyrs, confessions are also rapidly descending here".
Italy: sanctuaries confessions
"Italy, according to a 2009 survey, among those who communed 40% attended Confession at least once a year. It may seem like a low figure, but it's a very high world record. But if we listen to some regional data, it seems that it is falling rapidly and today it would be around 20%," the sociologist continues.
"Certainly, there are many confessions in the sanctuaries, but from other means that in Italy approximately five million people commune and the hundreds or thousands who rely on the sanctuaries are not enough to change the statistics".
"The vast majority of Catholics who commune do not confess. The problem is global, albeit with significant regional differences. Historical series show that the decline is constant and that it has not been able to stop it by the planetary popularity of Blessed John Paul II (1920-2005), nor the theological realization of Benedict XVI. As far as Pope Francis is concerned, it is too early to have more accurate data, but it is always difficult to stop these high waves," Introvigne predicts.
Those who commune without confessing
"Almost 90% of those who line up to commune in the United States every Sunday, 95% in certain areas of Northern Europe and 60 to 80% in Italy are not even confessed once a year. Comparing statistics on confession with others, it is true that among these not only are divorced remarried but also people who live before and outside of marriage, homosexual practitioners, abortion doctors, politicians who vote for laws Freemasons (excluded from communion according to the 1983 Declaration on Freemasonry, still in force) and all who want. Unless it is believed that 88% of the Americans who commune never commit serious sins, which would mean a flourish of holiness that has never been seen in the history of the Church."
Out of human shame? Or for doubting God?
Although many say that it is hard to confess admitting concretely their sins before a priest, Introvigne considers that "it is not true that we do not confess because of our sense of privacy, so as not to tell our matters to a priest". The sociologist points out a large number of users who have psychotherapies, and even more or less sectarian groups such as Scientology, which offer to cleanse or purge traumas from the past, "that must be exposed and defined". And that, despite being paid.
The reason that many Catholics do not confess is not the shame of admitting sin, but "no longer believe in the mercy of God" and many do not have "conscience of sin".
"Psychotherapists or those of Scientology do not talk about sin, but about general upheavals or negativity, which is accepted, although to touch it, touch the wallet, while confronting the annoying sin because it implies that the current relativistic mentality, according to which there is no objective notion of good and evil, it is wrong", says Introvigne.
Francis, the Pope of Confession
In the face of this, Pope Francis insists on a daily Magisterium that repeats, over and over again, the theme of God's mercy.
"If you follow the Magisterium of Pope Francis as it is and not as La Repubblica tells it to exalt it from a suspicious and manipulative way, or other newspapers to speak ill of him, it is discovered that the rivers of mercy that flow from the side of Christ that the Pontiff speaks as often do not turn round as, according to Scripture, the wicked do, but they lead to a specific place: confessionals."
"When the story of your Magisterium is made, Pope Francis will emerge as the Pope of Confession. He talks about it every week. In his address to the Roman parish priests for Lent, so far his longest speech has practically talked only about this. It has even escaped him to say that Confession takes precedence among the other sacraments, which is certainly true, as is the urgency in proposing it. Because the Church without confession simply does not exist. There is no sin, mercy, forgiveness, Redemption."
Without confession, there is no New Evangelization
"Do we want to fight the dictatorship of relativism, of which the Pope spoke in his first encounter with the Diplomatic Corps, assimilating it to the spiritual poverty, no less serious of material poverty? Let's confess and make propaganda of the confession", proposes Introvigne.
"Every time we put ourselves in the line of a confessional we fight relativism because we declare publicly that good and evil are not equal: good is done, evil is confessed", he adds.
"Let us participate with passion in the debates about the divorced and remarried, but the problem is not only them if they do not find a way to boost the Confession, but no" new evangelization "can also save the men and women of our time. of loneliness, desolation, and despair".
And the sociologist ends his article with an exhortation from Pope Francis:
And I say to you: if you weight your conscience, if you are ashamed of so many things that you have committed, stop a little, do not be scared. Think someone is waiting for you because he never stopped remembering you, and this someone is your Father, it is God who awaits you. Tread, as did Zacchaeus, climb the tree of desire to be forgiven; I assure you that you will not be disappointed (Angelus, 3-11-2013).
(Quotes by Introvigne and La Bussola translated by Helena Faccia Serrano, Alcalá de Henares)