Prelate: “Privatized” Religion Leads to Less Confession

Says Priests Busy Lives Also Plays a Role

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, APRIL 8, 2008 ( Fewer people avail of the sacrament of reconciliation because of an increased tendency to “privatize” the faith, contended a bishop of Uruguay.

Bishop Pablo Galimberti of Salto, in northeast Uruguay, said he believes confessions are less frequent because many Catholics leave aside the figure of the priest and choose religious rites according to personal convenience.

“In general terms, with adjustments for each country and each tradition, I think this is a worldwide phenomenon and is seen in each country with different focuses, obviously,” the bishop said. “The matter is that today we also participate in a tendency toward the ‘privatization’ of the religious experience.

“A privatization — that is, I deal with God and I use the religious rites of my church according to my needs and my urgencies.”

Bishop Galimberti affirmed that the consumer society is to blame for a growing distancing of Catholics from the Church. Sundays, he offered as an example, are good days for buying, for going out, for sports, for an agenda ever more packed full. “And Mass that is taken on the run, and remains a bit subordinated to other interests that also pressure the family.”

The Uruguayan prelate also recalled experiences during his priestly life that indicate a loss of the sense of sin.

He mentioned a young student who, after making a “nearly psychological” analysis of his problems, did not point out errors in himself nor in others. “And this student doesn’t have a body, hasn’t sinned, is an angel?” he asked himself.

Bishop Galimberti said priests also play a role in a decreased frequency of confessions. He contended that many priests have distanced themselves from the sacrament to avoid “getting involved” — avoiding problems that are or can become complex. And priests, too, the bishop added, also have their agendas more and more full and have less time for personal meetings with the faithful.

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