Papeete (Agenzia Fides) – "At the suggestion of many priests, it was agreed that in the Archdiocese of Papeete, the Pastoral Theme of the year 2010 would be the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” writes Archbishop Hubert Coppenrath of Papeete in his Pastoral Letter, a copy of which was sent to Fides. Among the reasons for this, Archbishop Coppenrath stresses that there is a growing apathy towards this Sacrament, and a decreased number of the faithful participating in confessions before Christmas and Easter. "It is also true that the number of priests in our diocese is clearly insufficient, and that it is not always easy to find a priest available for confession," the Archbishop noted, although he believes that the reasons are others: the loss of the sense of sin, doubt regarding the need to confess their sins to a man, even if he is a priest, the disregard for the need for ongoing conversion and in the pursuit of the holiness to which we are called.
In his letter, Archbishop Coppenrath then outlines the significance of sin according to Scripture ("Jesus' mercy towards sinners is not indifference to sin") and focuses on the power to forgive sins that Christ conferred on the Apostles and therefore on His Church, while some religions believe that "the power to forgive sins given to the Apostles, is only effective in Baptism." "We recognize that many Catholics make a bad use of this sacrament,” the Archbishop highlighted. Some never or hardly ever go to confession; others make a confession of their sins without any relationship to their real life, forgetting the call for a genuine repentance and change of life. Yet others do not exhibit a genuine sense of conversion. "How can God forgive someone who refuses to recognize himself a sinner?"
The other key elements of the Sacrament, illustrated by the Archbishop in his letter, are contrition for the harm done, the mercy of God, reparation, and permanent conversion. Finally, with the hope that this year may be an opportunity to deepen in their knowledge and practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Archbishop of Papeete reminds the faithful that this sacrament not only "reconciles the sinner with God, but also with the community," as sin weakens the entire community. "The Year of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, therefore, should also be a year of reconciliation among Christians, a year of forgiveness, which leads to a strengthening of unity and love among Christians." (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 19/02/2010)