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Archbishop says Catholics confusing confessionals with couches

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A top Catholic Bishop has taken a pop at the not-quite-faithful-enough, who are treating the confessional as little more than a cheaper, albeit darker, version of the psychologist's couch.

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza went on Vatican radio to bemoan the "deep crisis" that has overtaken the sacrament of penance, aka the sacrament of reconciliation aka confession, the Associated Press reports.

Piacenza said part of the problem was that even Catholics are having trouble distinguishing between good and evil, despite the Church's handy organisation of non-good things into Ten Commandments, and the even briefer 7 deadly sins.

With the greying of the line between good and evil, Catholics are less likely to heed the call to the confessional and cough up to taking money out of the collection plate and coveting their neighbours' ass, in return for being hit with penance of a dozen decades of the rosary and a commitment to help out at the next St Patrick's day dance.

In fact, some might be confusing it with a psychiatrists' couch, Piacenza suggested, presumably burdening the hard-pressed confessor with the whys and wherefores of where they went wrong in some half-arsed bid to show that it's really not their fault, and that if only their mother hadn't made them go to Church, they wouldn't have burned it down in the first place.

Piacenza, to be fair, accepted that the dwindling supply of priests isn't helping matters, admitting that "It's not always easy to find a priest ready to listen to the confessions of the faithful for hours."

A situation that hasn't been helped by the Vatican's sensible refusal to entertain the idea of confession over the web or by mobile phone.

Others say the Church should shoulder even more of the blame. Francis Rocca, a Vatican correspondent for the Religion News Service, told the Guardian:

"About 30 years ago the church started calling penance 'reconciliation', which to some Catholics might sound more like therapy than a sacrament".

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