SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Sydney says that World Youth Day is helping to restore a key element for the life of the Church — the sacrament of reconciliation.
To this end, Cardinal George Pell has made sure the sacrament is readily available in the host city this week. Priests, who received with their accreditation a schedule for hearing confessions, are located throughout the city in real and makeshift confessionals.
You see them under the trees of the Domain, around the waters of Darling Harbor and in the alcoves of every city church.
Notre Dame University has set up six key confessional zones, which Alton Pelowski of Michigan reports are never without penitents.
“It’s astounding to see the reverence and determination of each young Catholic pilgrim searching for meaning,” she told ZENIT.
Probably the most actively attended site for the sacrament is the Adoration and Reconciliation Center at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center, which reports steady lines of penitents rolling up directly after attending their morning catechesis.
Other accessible venues are at the Opera House, the Domain, and eventually the pavilions of the Randwick Racecourse, which on Saturday and Sunday will be the site of the vigil and closing Mass, presided over by Benedict XVI.
Gift of the Church
Cardinal Pell told ZENIT that he was determined to repeat the outpouring of the spirit necessary for full reconciliation with Christ he witnessed in 2000 at the World Youth Day in Rome.
The cardinal said that when young people have the chance to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, they normally go.
“We’ve seen ourselves at the cathedral school and in our World Youth Day groups that nearly all of them do, and the non-Catholics want to come too,” he added. “Though they can’t receive absolution, they can come for a chat and to bare their soul.”
Cardinal Pell said he is “convinced that a significant element behind the anger and hostility in many young people results from displaced guilt, and all this talk about the primacy of conscience doesn’t help either.”
“People feel guilt,” he continued, “although they may not call it guilt, which they try to bury deep inside them, only for it to emerge in all sorts of unexpected directions.”
“In an age where there is the burgeoning business of psychology, counseling, etc.,” the cardinal said, “it’s sad that there’s been a fall away from the practice of confessing to a priest, and World Youth Day is helping renew this — one of the most important gifts the Church offers.”