Pope says Church renewal starts in Confession

The beginning of the renewal of the Church begins in Confession, Pope Francis has told Germany’s bishops.

Pope Francis spoke to the German bishops in audience on November 20 and offered a blunt assessment of their nation’s church.

The Pontiff said he hoped the Jubilee Year of Mercy might revive the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist in a country where “one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith”.

In Confession, the Pope said, “is the beginning of the transformation of each individual Christian and the reform of the Church”.

Francis called for a better understanding of the Eucharist and for the German Church to model itself on the early Christians rather than place its faith in institutions.

The Pope praised the German church’s charitable initiatives and assistance to refugees.

But he noted the decline in Mass-going from the 1960s to a situation now when Sunday Mass attendance by German Catholics is often below 10 per cent.

“The sacraments are always approached less often. The sacrament of Penance is often missing. Fewer and fewer Catholics receive the sacrament of Confirmation or contract a Catholic marriage,” he said.

“The number of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life has significantly diminished. Given these facts, one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany.”

Pope Francis said Germany’s bishops should be inspired by the biblical couple of Priscilla and Aquila, who travelled with St Paul and strengthened the early Church.

“The example of these ‘volunteers’ can help us reflect, given the trend towards a growing institutionalisation,” Francis said.

“We always inaugurate new facilities, from which, in the end, the faithful are missing,” he said.

“It is a sort of new Pelagianism, which puts its trust in administrative structures, in perfect organisations.”

Francis called on the bishops to pray, undertake new forms of catechesis and evangelisation and take seriously their role as teachers of the faith.

Paralysed resignation is not the answer to the crisis, added the Pope, who also warned against worldliness.

Sources

News category: World.

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