Monday, March 04, 2024

Newly-ordained priests gather in Rome for course on reconciliation

A week-long forum on penitence and forgiveness is now underway in Rome.

Organised by the Vatican's Apostolic Penitentiary, the annual Internal Forum aims to give newly ordained priests, as well as seminarians soon to receive Holy Orders, an opportunity for “reflection and in-depth training” on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Multi-disciplinary discussions

During the forum, specialists from many different disciplines will address participants on topics ranging from indulgences to the relationship between confession and artificial intelligence.

In a press release, the organisers of the course said that priority would be given to “the resolution of concrete and complex cases submitted to the discernment and mercy of the Church".

Each session will be followed by a debate among the participants.

On Friday, March 8th, as the forum comes to an end, participants will be received in audience by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Piacenza: Reconciliation as prerequisite for Church reform

The forum was opened on Monday afternoon by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

He began his address by reflecting on the upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year, stressing that, although it often goes unnoticed, the aspect of reconciliation is central to the event. While the media, he said, focus above all on the millions of pilgrims expected to descend on Rome for the Jubilee, the penitential dimension is equally essential to the celebration. 

Before the “light” of forgiveness can shine in the world, however, Cardinal Piacenza cautioned, it must first shine in each one of us. “Indeed,” he suggested, “it would be unthinkable to hope for a renewal of the Church and the world, without our own personal renewal.”

The Cardinal also pointed out the important of penitence to the reform of the Church. “Reform, necessary at all times,” he said, “does not consist in reshaping ‘our’ Church according to our preferences … but rather in allowing our human constructions to be swept away by the mercy that comes from above.”

Finally, the Cardinal reflected on the eschatological dimension of penitence, which, he said, brings us back into communion not only with the Church on earth but also with the Church in Heaven. Confession, Cardinal Piacenza stressed, thus reconciles us with “the entire ecclesial body.”