Page 5, 10th August 1973

10th August 1973
Page 5
Page 5, 10th August 1973 — First confession

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Locations: London, Rome


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First confession

Your editorial "Forgiving and giving" (August 3) presents a really convincing vindication of first confession before first communion.

It certainly needs to be said that young people "are often more honest with themselves and with others about their deliberate malice than are some adults who sometimes rationalise into virtue." Confession treats yougsters as adult.

Protagonists of delaying first confession do not assess the pastoral facts sufficiently and in a desire to emphasise first communion do not in fact consider the ideal environment created by first confession.

One hopes that the points made in the editorial will be taken into serious consideration by those who are inclined to treat this decision (like many others) as a dead letter.

(Fr.) James Tolhurst 141 Central Hill, London, S.E.19.

Very many of us parents of young children, as well as others, will deplore both the directive from Rome on the timing of First Confession and Communion and your supporting editorial, none of whose reasons 1 personally find cogent, particularly for universal application.

1 should like to make the following observations: It can be more psychologically damaging to approach a Jansenistic cast of mind than a Pelagian: there is some truth in the frequent accusation that many Christians are obsessionally guiltridden about the wrong things. I know personally of more than one case where a First Communion has been one of the most horrible and traumatic experiences because of a fear of Judgment. There are still a great number of adults who (as they admit, irrationally) are unable to receive their Lord without first confessing — a result of childhood. conditioning.

The implication in your editorial that Confession can make us worthy to receive Our Lord smacks of heresy — Domine non sum dignus. I believe that the new rigidity springs from karat the top due to the declining number of confessions and evidence of desire for a new look at ways of administering the Sacrament which could be psychologically better for some tortured souls, of which there are not a few in the Church.

The Good News proclaimed by Christians will become increasingly an object of mockery to those like William Empson (cf. his views on Milton), while it appears that the sanction for love is fear. My own father, until very late in life (his seventies and eighties) received Commuj nion only annually because of his Jansenistic fears. God forbid that my own two sensitive little girls should be like him, afraid of the Lord's Supper.

From the empirical point of view the permitted experiments in most countries have been so brief that assessment is impossible. The educational and psychological insights of our time make it quite clear that the readiness of individual children of differing temperaments and at different intellectual stages in any sphere cannot be judged on a class or age basis; and furthermore your assumption that a readiness for Communion necessarily implies a readiness for Confession in all children is patently absurd. The laws of the Church are human, not divine, and cannot override the obligation of believing parents to protect and foster the spiritual life of their children to the best of their conscience.

Ernest Moss 35 St. Nicholas Road, Brighton.

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