The number of people going to confession in St Peter’s Basilica increased noticeably in the first months of Year of Mercy, but not among English-speakers, who apparently are staying away from Europe out of fear of terrorism.
- Catholic News Service
The rector of the Basilica’s team of confessors, Conventual Franciscan Fr Rocco Rizzo, told the Vatican newspaper that from the opening of the Holy Year he had heard about 2000 confessions in St Peter’s.
But “we are noticing that the majority of penitents are Italian. I think that is due to the alarm over terrorist attacks” following the series of attacks in Paris in November. “This is why the English-language priests have fewer confessions this year,” he said.
In an interview published in the March 10 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Fr Rizzo said that in addition to the 14 Conventual Franciscans assigned full time to the confessionals in St Peter’s Basilica, another 30 of their confreres are supplementing their work during the Holy Year.
The Conventual Franciscans hear confessions every day from 10 am to 1 pm and from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm in the winter; they stay until 7 pm in the spring and summer. In addition to Italian, Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Polish, confessors can offer the sacrament in a variety of languages, including Maltese, Chinese and Croatian.
Fr Rizzo said he usually hears 20 to 30 confessions a day in Italian or Spanish, but the number of penitents increases on Saturdays and Sundays, and he will offer the sacrament to at least 50 people each day on the weekend.
Another phenomenon that is increasing, he said, is people coming to the confessionals who are not Catholic. “They want to confess to see what it is about,” he said. While confessors can listen to and counsel non-Catholics, it is not considered a sacramental confession in most cases.
Photo: A clergyman hears confession from Pope Francis during a penitential liturgy in St Peter's Basilica (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano/Reuters)