With the second wave of Covid-19 killing persons of different age groups at a rate so far not experienced in Uganda, and the churches being closed again, Catholics who had hoped to get a quick confession and be ready to meet the Creator without fear will not have it that easy.
The Holy See (seat of the church in the Vatican) recently rejected any idea of the faithful confessing their sins over the phone or any other digital communication means. The Vatican maintains, and has so communicated to the Uganda Episcopal Conference whose members are aware anyway, that the Holy Sacrament of Penance for absolving one of their sins must be administered in person.
A member of the Episcopal conference told our correspondent that any faithful who needs to confess and be absolved of their sins must make arrangement with their priest and secure an appointment to have their confession heard, and that all priests in the country know this.
However with the safety requirements to guard against the transmission of the Coronavirus, the use of confession boxes in church was banned. And with social distancing, the penitent cannot be close enough to whisper in the confessor/priest’s ear. It means that the confession must now be made even more loudly that before.
The senior clergyman explains that Penance is the sacrament of reconciliation and reconciliation cannot be done anonymously and that ‘Liturgical Guidelines’ were already issued to all priests in the country earlier. They centre on the confession being eld in a well ventilated place, which is a big room with the penitent and confessor sitting far apart from each other and not having to lean over to hear what one is saying. The confession can also be heard outdoor say, in the compound, as long as the ‘sacramental seal’ is safeguarded.
The bishops and the Vatican maintain that while the celebrating of Mass can take place via Television, the sacrament of Penance requires a “full, natural human conversation” to take place.
And so “the Holy See has rejected the calls for virtual or phone confessions on the ground that the sacrament requires physical presence and interpersonal action between the penitent and priest-confessor.
So much for digital confessions – they won’t be an option anytime soon.
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