Priests report marked upsurge in confessions
Rise attributed to the 'Pope Francis effect'
Roman Catholic priests are reporting a marked rise in the number of people attending confession since the election of Pope Francis – including young people and some who had not attended Church for decades.
An informal survey of clergy based in cathedrals across England and Wales found that two thirds had noticed an upturn in numbers taking part in the sacrament, something many of them attributed to a papal “bounce”.
The Church said that the greater willingness by people to “unburden” themselves and deal “issues” than in the past had also given the centuries old practice a new relevance for some, including those who might be put off by public services.
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said a more informal approach to confession than in the past had also helped draw younger people – including increasing numbers who even attend with a smart phone in one hand, making use of a range of special confession apps to guide them through the process.
He joked that as a child he had been rather less diligent - even making up sins up to get through confession.
The polling of cathedral deans or priests-in-residence found that around a third had seen an increase which they attributed to a combination of the impact of the new Pope and the continuing impact of the Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain three years ago.
Respondents spoke of having to make special arrangements to accommodate extra demand for confession this summer.
One respondent replied: “Some people are coming in saying I don’t know what to say or do because they haven’t been since they were at school or for 30 years, and are asking for help with the words to say.”
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