- Mar 4, 2021
Even though the world is facing a pandemic that may limit many people’s ability to celebrate the sacraments, particularly those people who are in isolation, quarantining or hospitalized with COVID-19, confession by phone is still most likely invalid, said Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Plenary or full indulgences traditionally obtained during the first week of November for the souls of the faithful in purgatory can now be gained throughout the entire month of November, the Vatican said.
In places particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and with severe limits on people leaving their homes, conditions may exist to grant general absolution to the faithful without them personally confessing their sins first, the Vatican said.
As California is currently embroiled in a battle over whether to punish priests for not breaking the seal of confession in cases when child abuse is revealed, the Vatican has issued a statement reaffirming the “inviolability” of the confidentiality of confession, and saying political pressure in this regard is a breach of religious liberty.
In confession, the privacy of one’s conscience before God, also known as the internal forum, must always be protected and not be used to influence decisions outside the confessional, Pope Francis said.
Catholics who participate in the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August or pray with their families during the Aug. 21-26 event can receive a plenary indulgence, the Vatican announced.
A good confessor is a good listener, Pope Francis said. By truly listening to the penitent during confession, “we listen to Jesus himself, poor and humble; by listening to the Holy Spirit, we put ourselves in attentive obedience, becoming listeners of the Word” in order to know what God wants to be done, he said.