"No to General Absolution," Except Rarely, Says Cardinal Re

In an Address at Synod of Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The bishop is the «custodian» of the Eucharist and the one who must ensure that «general absolutions» do not take place except in very special cases, says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, emphasized that point in an address today in the Synod of Bishops’ new hall.

The cardinal spoke about a bishop’s responsibility as the one who must ensure the «decorum and good celebration» of the Mass.

«The very way the bishop celebrates the Eucharist nourishes the faith of the priests and people,» said Cardinal Re. «It is important to dedicate special attention to the faithful’s participation in Sunday Mass and to see that Eucharistic celebrations are always proper and beautiful.»

Cardinal Re called for a recovery of «the pedagogy of conversion that stems from the Eucharist» and added that the bishop must defend «frequent recourse to individual confession.»

Thus bishops must see to it that general or collective absolutions not be carried out except for very justified exceptions, as contemplated in Pope John Paul II’s letter «Misericordia Dei,» the Vatican prefect said.

«The bishop has the obligation not to allow in his diocese abusive recourse to general or collective absolution,» he stressed.

Legionary of Christ Father John Bartunek, an English-speaking reporter for the synod, said that Cardinal Re explained that «many dioceses have introduced general absolution and have seen that this has only caused harm to the spiritual life and a loss of the sense of sin.»

According to Father Bartunek, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops added that «the faithful themselves realize that this practice does not move them to conversion.»

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