June 4, 2009 / 4:37 PM / 10 years ago

Vatican says confession is not psychotherapy

Bishops receive confessions from women during a penitential celebration led by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13, 2008. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (Reuters Life!) - Don’t confuse confession with psychotherapy, a Vatican official cautioned, as he spoke of a “deep crisis” facing the age-old sacrament.

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza said fewer and fewer people were confessing their sins or clearly distinguishing the difference between “right and wrong, truth and lies, sin and virtue.”

“If one does not have a sense of sin, it’s difficult to seek reconciliation, obviously,” Piacenza, an official at the congregation of the clergy, told Vatican Radio this week.

“One would then confuse (confession) with a psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s couch.”

Piacenza said another problem was that there were fewer priests in many nations. That meant fewer people to hear confessions.

Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Steve Addison

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