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Growing lack of interest by Catholics to confess their sins to the Parish: Archbishop Tamba Charles getting sleepless nights

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Growing lack of interest by Catholics to confess their sins to the Parish: Archbishop Tamba Charles getting sleepless nights

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In his 2024 Lenten Season message, Archbishop of Sierra Leone’s Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown said he is concern about the people’s growing lack of interest in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation in his Metropolitan See, which he said has giving him sleepless nights.

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles said he finds it inconceivable that confessionals in the Archdiocese have remained empty while the queues for Holy Communion in the Parishes and Catholic communities of the Archdiocese are getting longer.

He expressed concern about what he described as “the death” of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation in the Archdiocese of Freetown.

“We have noticed, over the years, a very worrying lack of interest in this particular sacrament in this diocese.

I want you to know that, as your Chief Shepherd, I am very worried and that I am having sleepless nights about this very serious pastoral situation in our diocese,” he said.

Archbishop Tamba Charles went on that he finds it baffling that while many people turn up for confessions on major events, confessionals remain empty the rest of the year.

He said: “The truth be told, whenever there is a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Penance of Reconciliation in the parishes and Catholic communities, and especially during the annual Archdiocesan Lenten Pilgrimage … there is generally an encouraging turn out for confessions.

“However, throughout the rest of the year, the confessionals are generally empty because very few of the faithful come for confession, often scheduled for an hour or so in our parishes,” the Archbishop said.

He added, “Unfortunately, even as the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is dying in our diocese, quite often the lines for Holy Communion in our parishes and Catholic communities are getting longer, even though we have been repeatedly reminded that receiving the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ while conscious of having committed a grave sin amounts to self-condemnation.”

Archbishop Tamba Charles described Lent as a suitable time for conversion and for revival of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

He highlighted some of the reasons that people give for not going to confession, including their perception of Priests as sinners, as well as fear that their secrets may be revealed.

He explained: “In the prayer of absolution, the priest pleads with God the Father of mercies, who reconciled the world to himself through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, and sent the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins.

“I find it “interesting” that those who say that they would not go to the Priest for confession do not use the same argument when they want to attend Mass, to receive Holy Communion, to marry in Church, or to have their children baptized, or to bury their dead relatives.

“Still, some people who do not go to confession claim that the Priests discuss the sins that people confess to them, Archbishop Tamba Charles notes, and  continues, I find this reason outrageous because even the most deranged priest was taught during his seminary formation that divulging the sin of a penitent amounts to automatic excommunication.”

He said he has challenged people who know of Priests that divulged their sins after confessing them to report them, adding; “No one has ever come forward to report that a particular priest has divulged his or her sins to another priest or to another person. Perhaps there are other reasons why many of our Catholic faithful do not go to confession. I am eager to know them”.

He said: “I am hoping that the consultations in preparation for our second pastoral assembly would bring them out. But as your Chief Shepherd, I am very worried that many people are not going to confession on a regular basis”.

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