Confess instead of taking to airwaves – bishop
The Catholic Church has urged the faithful to think again before they lift the telephone to reveal their innermost secrets to a radio programme and instead consider going to confession.
Priests remained on standby to hear confessions as churches remained open overnight as part of a global initiative '24 Hours for the Lord'.
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty, speaking to the Irish Independent in St Andrew's Church in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, said many people were "dragged" into telling their story on air to radio programmes or elsewhere in the media.
But he said the Catholic sacrament of confession was sacred and what was said to the priest was absolutely confidential.
He said the initiative, '24 Hours for the Lord' which began at 5pm yesterday and ends at 5pm today, was about promoting the mercy and forgiveness of God.
The bishop said he was shocked by suggestions last year that priests would be required by the law to break the seal of confession and reveal what had been confessed to them if it related to abuse of a child.
Among those who attended the adoration and confession initiative in Bagenalstown was Patsy Murphy and Kathleen Chada, the grandmother and mother of Eoghan (10) and five-year-old Ruairi Chada who were found dead in a crashed car near Westport last July. Their father, Sanjeev Chada, has been charged with their murder.
Ms Murphy, from Ballinkillen outside Bagenalstown, told the Irish Independent that '24 Hours for the Lord' was about "reconciliation and peace – and peace of mind."
"I know it is going to be very very hard to have compassion for what has happened; it was a very traumatic time for us last year," the grandmother said.
"Last July, we lost our two beautiful grandsons," she said and began to weep, as she added: "I would hope that God has mercy on all the people that are involved, which is going to be very hard for us to accept."
At Bagenalstown, gone were the dark confession boxes as priests and bishop sat quietly around the church. More than 100 people in the church were invited to tell God of their loss and "fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness and the sunlight of serenity".
Bishop Nulty said people needed to get away from the squirm factor around confession and see it as something that could make their lives whole again. He said there was a community dimension for those feeling lonely.
"There are many people who are very lonely in life, who tonight will realise that the lights are on in Bagnelstown church and they can go down there and say a prayer.
"Those people will see that the church doors are open all night and there is a priest there to hear their story.
"Whatever baggage, wound or healing needs to be done in their life – that is available to them this evening," he explained.
The bishop himself spent an hour between midnight and 1am hearing confessions at the small local church.