UMBLINGS from Rome -•-1". indicating that some time in the future private confession, except for grave sins, might be largely phased out and replaced by an extended form of general confession and absolution prompted us to ask some well-known Catholics two questions.
These were "What do you think of the idea of general absolution compared with going to confession?" And: "Do you like or dislike going to confession?"
Famonn Andrews, the television compere and sports
commentator, replied: "General confession sounds like a good idea. though I think obviously you would lose some of the comfort you get in the box. It might well be a help to inhibited Catholics and those who arc shy and might not otherwise go to confession.
"1 don't like going to confession. especially if I have something serious to confess."
Mrs. Shirley Williams, Labour M.P. for Hitchin. said: "I am only reacting untheologically. I think it would be a pity to abolish private confession completely. The great thing about it is the personal sense of guilt with which it deals.
"I don't think you would get the same atmosphere with general confession. I think that general absolution is a good idea insofar as it shows there is such a thing as general guilt besides the personal, sometimes neurotic, type. 1 would prefer to see both forms allowed.
"I don't enjoy going to confession particularly, but it serves a useful and important function."
Peregrine Worsthorne, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, plumped firmly for the status quo. He said : "The whole point of confession in its present practice is that it is difficult, painful and embarrassing -all of which would be changed if the present method were to be replaced by a mass participation.
"The answer to the second question is implicit in the first."
Unrepentantly trailing his coat was the writer and convert Hugh Ross Williamson. Referring to the possibility of replacing private confession, he said: "It is just the sort of thing that all those who welcome the new Mass would obviously approve of."
Emphasising that in his view the Missa Nortnativa is not a valid Mass he added : "As the greater sacrament has gone, why worry about the lesser?"
As for going to confession, although very rigorous about it even in his Anglican days, he never enjoyed and could not see how anyone could possibly like it.
Auberon Waugh, the novelist, journalist and former CATHOLIC HERALD columnist, was much more guarded. He said: "1 think if we were to extend the scope of general confession to include, say, mortal sin there would be fewer lapsed Catholics though it would lead to a greater degree of apathy."
"But if you kept general confession down to venial sins only it might result in a slightly greater degree of apathy. that's all,"