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I had a ten minute interview with Jumoke Fashola on BBC London this Sunday morning. The topic was confession – what it means, how to go, and in particular why many Catholic churches are reporting an increase in the number of people going to confession over the last few months.

jum

You can listen to the interview here, my bit starts at 3:08:40. [It’s available until 14 Sept].

This is from the Telegraph article by John Bingham that got the discussion going:

An informal survey of clergy based in cathedrals across England and Wales found that two thirds had noticed an upturn in numbers taking part in the sacrament, something many of them attributed to a papal “bounce”.

The Church said that the greater willingness by people to “unburden” themselves and deal “issues” than in the past had also given the centuries old practice a new relevance for some, including those who might be put off by public services.

The polling of cathedral deans or priests-in-residence found that around a third had seen an increase which they attributed to a combination of the impact of the new Pope and the continuing impact of the Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain three years ago.

Respondents spoke of having to make special arrangements to accommodate extra demand for confession this summer.

One respondent replied: “Some people are coming in saying I don’t know what to say or do because they haven’t been since they were at school or for 30 years, and are asking for help with the words to say.”

Another said: “This summer there has been a marked difference in demand compared to last summer … We don’t usually offer confessions in August but have done this year.”

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Jumoke Fashola hosts the Sunday morning Inspirit slot on BBC London. One of the topics this morning was the question of whether it is possible to trust someone with your most intimate secrets. As part of the discussion, they wanted a Catholic priest to explain the meaning of confession. I got the invitation on Thursday, and spent an hour yesterday evening thinking about how you would open up the idea of confession to a very mixed London audience.

Confessions room at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

The mood of the programme is certainly not anti-religious (and Jumoke spoke about her memories of going to confession as a girl at a convent school), but I couldn’t assume people would know much about confession beyond what they had seen in the movies. I knew that one of the questions would be about the link between therapy (or simply ‘getting something off your chest’) and confession; but how would you explain in ordinary language that the sacrament of confession is far more than a helpful chat with a trusted friend or therapist?

You can listen to the conversation here:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN [Too late!!]

My interview starts at 2:18.24 and runs to 2:27.15. I think the iPlayer link lasts for a week, until about 11 Dec.

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