US Bishops Encourage 'Gift of Forgiveness'

Release Pastoral Exhortation on Reconciliation

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The U.S. bishops recently released a statement encouraging Catholics to go to confession, especially during the period of Lent, which will start shortly.

The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation was approved Nov. 13 by the bishops during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

“Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Timothy Dolan have both stressed the importance of confession in strengthening our witness during the Year of Faith,” said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

“Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (Jn 20:19-23). “What an extraordinary gift!,” the pastoral exhortation noted. “He wanted them to become apostles of this forgiveness to others.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him,” the document continued.

The bishops reminded Catholics that they are required to go to confession at least once a year. “The Church also encourages frequent confession in order to grow closer to Christ Jesus and his Body, the Church,” they added.

“We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. If you have not received this healing sacrament in a long time, we are ready to welcome you,” the exhortation commented.

“We pray that through the work of the Holy Spirit, all Catholics—clergy and laity—will respond to the call of the New Evangelization to encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation,” the exhortation concluded.

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Full text of pastoral exhortation

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