Pope Points to Root of the Loss of Sense of Sin

Urges Canadian Bishops to Promote Sacrament of Penance

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The loss of the sense of sin stems from the loss of the sense of God, says Benedict XVI.



"Where God is excluded from the public forum," the Pope said, "the sense of offense against God -- the true sense of sin -- dissipates, just as when the absolute value of moral norms is relativized the categories of good or evil vanish, along with individual responsibility."

The Holy Father made his observation today when addressing bishops from the Western Catholic Conference of Canada, who were making their five-yearly visit to the Vatican.

Benedict XVI continued: "When the need to seek forgiveness and the readiness to forgive are forgotten, in their place a disturbing culture of blame and litigiousness arises."

"This ugly phenomenon, however, can be dispelled," the Pope said. Then, referring to the Gospel parable of the prodigal son, he added: "Following the light of Christ's healing truth is to say with the father: 'My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours' and we must be glad 'because your brother ... who was lost ... is found.'"

The Holy Father made these reflections based on the reports and personal meetings he had with the Canadian bishops.

Reconciliation

For Benedict XVI, recovery of the sense of sin is a pastoral priority, as it also implies recovery of the sense of God.

"This pastoral priority reflects an eager hope that the faithful will experience God's boundless love as a call to deepen their ecclesial unity and overcome the division and fragmentation that so often wound today's families and communities," he added.

The Pope recommended that the bishops promote the sacrament of reconciliation.

"While this sacrament is often considered with indifference, what it effects is precisely the fullness of healing for which we long," he assured. "A newfound appreciation of this sacrament will confirm that time spent in the confessional draws good from evil, restores life from death, and reveals anew the merciful face of the Father."