Q. Catholics are blessed to have the sacrament of reconciliation. But what about other faiths? How do non-Catholics have their sins forgiven? (Honolulu)
A. The Catholic Church has a long history of the confession of sins. In the earliest centuries, confession was actually done in public, the thinking being that when we sin, we damage not only our own friendship with God but our relationships within the community of faith; but around the sixth century Irish monks began hearing confessions one on one, and that practice spread to the church universal.
Though most Catholics may not know this, there are types of individual confession in other religious groups as well. Eastern Orthodox priests, for example, hear confessions not in a confessional but in the main part of the church, before a Gospel book and an icon of Jesus Christ. (This serves as a reminder to the penitent that the confession is really made not to another human being but to God himself.)
Lutherans have a form of confession known as “Holy Absolution,” that is done privately to a cleric upon request. After the penitent has confessed his or her sins, the minister declares: “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
In the Anglican tradition, confession and absolution is usually done by an entire congregation as part of a eucharistic service, but certain Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, do practice private auricular confession.
The Catholic Church teaches that lesser sins can be forgiven by prayer and acts of charity, but it requires individual confession at least annually for grave (mortal) sins and encourages penitents to confess lesser (venial) sins also, as a way to grow in holiness.
It’s noteworthy to mention that during the pandemic, in March 2020 the Apostolic Penitentiary (the Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience) urged Catholic priests to remind the faithful that, when they find themselves with “the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution,” they can make an act of contrition directly to God in prayer. If they are sincere and promise to go to confession as soon as possible, said the Vatican tribunal, they “obtain the forgiveness of sins, even mortal sins.”
Q. I heard on a Catholic channel that on holy days of obligation, all proceeds from the collection plate stay with the parish — as distinguished from Sunday offerings, where there is a split with the diocese. Is this true? (City and state withheld)
A. Although there is some variation among dioceses, I am not familiar with any place that has the arrangement you describe — where holy day revenue would go to the parish, while Sunday collections would be divided with the diocese.
Instead, all collections typically go first to the parish, where they are used to keep the lights and heat on in the parish church, pay the salaries of parish staff, provide Catholic education through a parish school and/or religious education program, etc. The parish then forwards to the diocese a yearly tax, called an assessment, that is used to run the chancery office and the marriage tribunal, to train seminarians, etc.
That assessment, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, averages about 13% of the monies collected at parish Masses throughout the year.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at email@example.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Divine medicine for a wounded nation
NEXT: God invites us to be with him, through his son, Jesus
Share this story