For the purposes of nominating, please suggest any priest who:
- Makes himself available to administer the sacrament outside of regular hours or conventional settings;
- Warmly welcomes the penitent into the sacrament;
- Has an unusual capacity to ‘tease out’ sin, and assist the penitent in identifying his/her particular occasions of sin;
- Makes astute and probing inquiries of the penitent, without being voyeuristic;
- Appears to have a firm grasp of the moral challenges facing today’s families and youth, and is able to correctly articulate sin and its occasions for the penitent;
- Provides firm guidance, advice and tools that are of practical use to the penitent;
- Discerns sometimes unusual (and maybe difficult), but relevant and appropriate penance tailored to suit individual circumstances and needs;
- Removes the sense of despair from penitents who feel they cannot escape sin, or who are weak in faith;
- Creates an atmosphere of trust, hope, love and forgiveness that can sometimes cause a penitent to reveal past sins previously concealed; and
- Fosters an understanding that the conquest of sin may be a long journey, and that neither he nor the church will ever give up hope for the penitent.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of what makes a good confessor. A sound knowledge of sacramental theology and scripture, personal spiritual health, affective maturity and other factors contribute significantly to the character of priests who administer the sacrament.
That said, it is time to make a list of priests known for their extraordinary abilities in the confessional generally known so that the faithful can avail themselves of the best pastoral resources in their own communities. Too many have been away from this sacrament for far too long, and need to experience this extraordinary gift at its very best.
Comments Note: Due to the sensitive nature of this post, anonymous comments have been enabled to allow those who wish to post without attribution to do so, but my preference is for attributable comments. Also, please take the time to hyperlink the parish or priest name so that others can more easily track them down (which is the whole point here - to embolden others to take advantage of the sacrament). Thanks!
Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.