Roman Catholics: Confession: Public or Private?

The Roman Catholic Church urges its faithful to confess their sins to a priest at least once a year, and insists that they do so before receiving Communion if they have committed a mortal sin. In theory, confession should be a cleansing encounter between the believer and God, during which the priest, acting in God's name, forgives a penitent his sins and advises him on how to lead a more holy life. In crowded urban churches—or even outside them, as at the outdoor confessionals sometimes seen in such traditionally Catholic countries as Poland—confession is often a mechanical recitation of...

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