A Comeback for Confession

American Catholics consider confession old hat. Now the church has new plans to get them back

Mario Laporta / AFP / Getty

A woman confesses in the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church in the San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, on March 16, 2006.

One of the first things Roman Catholics do when they enter the confessional is utter how long it has been since their last confession. But Franca Gargiulo can't remember the last time. Gargiulo is a spiritually thoughtful woman who went to Catholic school as a girl and at 44 still attends Mass at St. Dominic Catholic Church in San Francisco. Confession--telling your sins to a priest and receiving absolution--is one of her faith's seven sacraments, but for Gargiulo it now seems as anachronistic as prayer veils and meatless Fridays. "It lost its efficacy for me," says Gargiulo. "It was too much...

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