US bishop pleads with priests around the world to provide confession during epidemic
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TYLER, Texas, March 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A bishop well-known for his defense of Catholic orthodoxy has a message for priests in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic: hear confessions.
Joseph Edward Strickland, 61, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas begged priests around the world to do what they can to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to repentant sinners.
“Catholic priests of the world...make yourselves available for Confession observing social distancing & all precautions,” the bishop wrote this morning on Twitter.
“This MUST be done. It is tragic that many cannot receive Communion but hear their Confessions SOMEHOW & their souls will be ready to receive Him when possible.”
Catholic priests of the world...make yourselves available for Confession observing social distancing & all precautions. This MUST be done. It is tragic that many cannot receive Communion but hear their Confessions SOMEHOW & their souls will be ready to receive Him when possible.— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) March 19, 2020
Catholics hold that the priest has the power to forgive all sins, acting as God’s instrument of mercy. Confession is integral to Christian life since it cleanses one from deadly sins that would otherwise cut one off from God and the Kingdom of heaven.
Strickland’s plea follows the suspension of all public Masses across the United States because of the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic. It did not fall upon deaf ears.
“About to hear confessions this morning via drive-thru,” replied Fr. Paul-Michael Piega of the Diocese of Austen. He tweeted a photograph of the blue makeshift confessional he had arranged under a tent in a parking lot. Fr. Piega also directed Twitter readers to a live-stream of an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in his church, St. Albert the Great.
About to hear confessions this morning via drive-thru! pic.twitter.com/YrnQxHdJei— Fr. Paul-Michael Piega (@fatherpiega) March 19, 2020
Other priests in the USA, like Fr. Scott Holmer of Bowie, Maryland, have made similar arrangements, and photographs of brave confessors sitting in parking lots are making the rounds on social media. Fr. Douglas Dietrich of Lincoln, Nebraska is hearing confessions from his office window.
Twitter users voiced their appreciation of Strickland’s appeal to priests.
Entrepreneur Eteuati Auvaa responded with a tweet saying, “Thank you, your Excellency, Bishop Strickland for your clear & proactive leadership at this critical time.”
“Perhaps God has allowed this diabolical virus to shake up people's complacency about sin, and its consequences,” he added.
“Keep encouraging them to find ways,” tweeted a Catholic grandmother calling herself “Conquered By Love”.
“Just find a way! I spent 50 yrs encouraging reverence in diocese but confess this is NOT the time to give into histrionics of people who will deny Sanctifying Grace. I’ll pull up in a car and receive the Body and Blood of Christ in my hand,” she added.
Current guidelines in hard-hit Italy stipulate that people who do not have symptoms of the Covid-19 coronavirus should remain one meter (roughly 3 ) apart in public spaces.