Shaw: Contraception one reason for Catholic flight from confession

Russell Shaw of Our Sunday Visitor thinks that  one of the reasons Catholics avoid confession is because they are pro contraception.


This year as in other recent Lents, dioceses and parishes across the country are making a push to get Catholics back to this neglected sacrament. I wish them much success. The flight from sacramental penance has been one of the genuine disasters of contemporary Catholic life.

What explains it? Many things undoubtedly combine to play a part: an often-cited loss of the sense of sin, fatuous presumption that God approves of me no matter what, shame at the prospect of confessing one’s sins after a long time (give it a try: It won’t hurt). But part of it, I feel certain, has to do with contraception.

It works this way.

Last time I looked, the surveys were reporting that something like eight out of 10 American Catholics said they thought contraception was OK and the Church was wrong about it. Obviously this includes many of childbearing, child-rearing age who are practicing contraception now.

As far as the Sacrament of Penance is concerned, these people don’t want to confess contraception because they believe — or anyway say they believe — it isn’t wrong, and they don’t care to give it up. But they don’t want not to confess it since they know perfectly well that the Church says something different, so not confessing would be, well, kind of dishonest. The non-solution to the dilemma is not to receive the sacrament at all. Which is where we are now. “  Read more here.

Hmm. I don’t really think that contraception is a reason people avoid confession.  As a deacon’s wife I have listened to many people in the pews and I have never heard that given as a reason. It is only in recent years that the clergy have been encouraging people to go to confession and to offer it on a regular and frequent basis. Consequently people have not gone to confession for many years. It can be intimidating to return to the sacrament.

Also I do see signs that Catholics are embracing the Sacrament.

What do you think? Why do people avoid the Sacrament?

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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4 Responses to Shaw: Contraception one reason for Catholic flight from confession

  1. LeAnn says:

    I typically have to wait in line, so I guess I don’t know where this is a problem. It seems like a lot of people go to confession. It’s not like I can just waltz in … and I usually say a prayer of thanks that there are people in front of me because I am glad they are receiving the sacraments.


  2. David says:

    I think it is a problem, not with the Church, but with the people. Don’t we all have some sin we just don’t want to give up? And don’t we know that, if we confess it and are not sorry and willing to turn away from that sin, at least making a firm purpose of amendment, even if we fail, then we cannot be absolved of our sin. Those using contraception usually are not willing to turn away from it. Thus they avoid the confessional, because they know in their heart that they won’t really be absolved.

    Sin is all about being selfish. When a person chooses to be more self-less, they tend to make better progress in spiritual life.


    • Cheri Hall says:

      Why the sacrament of of Reconcillation is not taken advantage of – the answer is more complex than placing a simplistic answer ie: contraception. The whole change from developing a laundry list on sins to a focus of “getting in touch” with who we are in relationship to God. A list of “why we don’t” may include- poor catechises, lack of understanding reconcilition, a disconnect between our lives & “the Church”, the sex abuse scandal, the fear of not being accepted by “the Church”, “mixed marriages” -religion,culture, race. The relationship of faith & science(sin & physiology). Learningthat accepting that we are a sinful people and because of our baptism we long for a healthy and fruitful relationship with the God who brought us to life is a lifelong process & the Grace of the sacrament is there for us.


  3. Deanna says:

    Most people I know who don’t go to confession say it is because they believe 1. they can tell God sorry without a priest, 2. they don’t really do anything wrong i.e no mortal sin, 3. a priest a long time ago said something awful to them in the confessional, (not immoral) just not very insightful. When I try to explain how helpful it is to go and why and what the Church teaches about the sacrament, they think it’s good for me, but not for them.


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