From our "no comment" department

confessionalI confess that I really, really think that this Associated Press report needed to be much, much longer. Then again, I think that this is one of the biggest stories in the world of religion news, these days. It's the question that reporters have to ask right after they have asked how often an American Catholic goes to Mass.

This is the whole bloody thing, as far as I can tell.

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- A Vatican official is lamenting that many faithful no longer confess their sins, and says some confuse a psychologist's couch for a confessional booth.

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza has told Vatican Radio the sacrament of penance has been experiencing a "deep crisis" for decades. Piacenza, an official for the Vatican office on clergy, says fewer people distinguish between good and evil, and as a result don't go to confession.

The archbishop said in the interview Tuesday that if faithful don't have a sense of sin, they might "confuse" confession with "the couch of a psychologist or a psychiatrist."

He says the Vatican plans to publish this year a kind of handbook on confession to drum up enthusiasm among Catholics toward the sacrament.

A new handbook. That will do it. As opposed to thousands of priests mentioning the bonds between the church's teachings on confession and Holy Eucharist in sermons every now and then, like during Lent or Advent?

This is the kind of story that gives journalists sweaty palms. It's a big story about real life and, well, real sin. Those things tend to go together.

Has anyone seen any really good mainstream reports on the confession slump lately?

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