THE EVER increasing support given to the World Disarmament Campaign by the Churches encourages me to write to extend an invitation to your readers to become members and to encourage their local Churches to affiliate to us.
The many resolutions of support for our Campaign passed by Church Bodies ihclude one passed with no dissentient votes at the 13th Assembly of the British Council of Churches. Point 5 of that Resolution declared "This Assembly calls upon all Christians to support the World Disarmament Campaign as one way of advocating the multilateral or DO THE "Easter duties" include an obligation to go to Confession as well as to receive Holy Communion? B. P.
RATHER than the yes or no answer that one would expect to such a question, we need to look at some past Church teaching — at what was said and at what was meant.
We start with the Fourth Lateran Council, held in 1215. Before this Council the rule used to be that Catholics confessed at least three times a year. This Council reduced it to a minimum of once a year. Was this to lower standards or to discourage people from confessing too often?
It was the reverse. In those times neither the sacrament of
Confession nor Holy
any frequency, and there were indeed signs that both were being badly neglected. The Council, anxious to try and improve matters, reduced the number of compulsory uses of Confession in the hope of enticing people willingly back to this sacrament.
Three centuries later was the Council of Trent, 1545-1563. This Council was concerned unilateral approach towards disarmament by signing its petition and encouraging others to do so".
The annual subscriptions for individual members is £6 (couples £8) pensioners and unwaged £3. Local Churches and Other local associations are invited to affiliate and to pay a minimum annual fee of £10 (though difficulty in subscribing this amount should not deter churches or societies who wish to join us).
Lord Fenner Brockway Chairman, World Disarniament Campaign 238 Camden Road London NW 1 especially to confirm previous Church teaching and also to combat the teaching of the Reformers. As part of this effort to strengthen and renew the Church, Trent referred to Lateran IV and repeated that Council's leaching: that Christ's faithful must confess once a year, and that they must receive Holy Communion at least once a year, and that during the Paschal Season.
Then in this century, especially because of Pope St Pius X, the approach and outlook towards Holy Communion, and because of that towards Confession, changed radically. Pius X, as
many will remember, encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion. This, as if to show the gap in customary practice, caught on and is, thank God, still with us.
And today, following Vatican II, we have our great revised liturgy, including the rite of' Penance, (or Reconciliation); and we still have Easter duties. What should we make of them?
Two considerations; First it is true that the sacrament of Confession is individually absolutely necessary only for those in a state of mortal sin. Literally and legalistically there is no strict obligation to seek absolution if there is no mortal sin requiring forgiveness.
Second, it is also true that IV Lateran and Trent didn't say anything about "Easter and thereabouts" for Confession. In fact what happened was that the Church subsequently, for everyone's convenience, brought confession and communion together and included them in "Easter duties". The Church also extended the season for making these duties, for the Councils spoke only of the Paschal Season while nowadays we have "from Ash Wednesday till Trinity Sunday".
Confession is one of the sacraments, as one of the seven ways of meeting Christ, and as one of the seven ways He chooses especially to meet us. Why has He given us Confession — which so many dislike and may wish wasn't there? Because He loves us, and in his love He sees we need it.
Why does the Church lay down these rules regarding Confession? Because the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, faithful to the will of the Saviour, and entrusted with the mission of bringing all men to God and to their homeland.
So in answer to the question as, stated at the beginning: No, "Easter duties" do not necessarily include an obligation to go to Confession.
But may one add to that, for the sake of perspective, the works of John Paul II in Liverpool Cathedral on May 30th. He said, "Dearly beloved, let us give greater emphasis to the sacrament of Penance in our own lives. Let us strive to safeguard . . . Christ's 'right to meet each of us in that key moment in the soul's life constituted by the moment of conversion and forgiveness".