São Paulo, Brazil -- Courses of ongoing formation during the Year for Priests

With the encouragement and support of the Brazilian National Bishops Conference and the Archdiocese of São Paulo, the chaplaincy of the International Institute of Social Sciences of São Paulo organized the Second Course of Ongoing Formation for Priests between the 21st and 24th of July. In connection with the Year for Priests convoked by Benedict XVI, eight conferences were given and six practical cases were studied under the heading of “The Sacrament of Reconciliation, a personal encounter with God’s mercy.”

Attending the course were 140 priests from 42 Brazilian dioceses. At the opening session, Fr. Eugenio Carlos Callioli, Vicar of Opus Dei for the Delegation of São Paulo, read a letter from Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Rev. Angel Garcia-Ibáñez, professor of Sacramental Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, gave two conferences on the importance of the sacrament of Reconciliation and on the loss of the sense of sin in today’s world. Rev. Rafael Stanziona de Moraes, who holds a doctorate in moral theology from the University of Navarra, spoke about the divine configuration of this sacrament. Rev. Francisco Faus, from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, spoke on “Spiritual direction: the role of the priest as pastor, physician, judge, teacher and father.” Finally Father Luis Madero, director of the Pontifical Institute of Higher Studies in Canon Law in Rio de Janeiro, spoke about the canonical aspects of the sacrament of Penance.

The afternoons were dedicated to the study of practical cases in administrating the sacrament of Penance, using the “case-study method.” Among other points, priests were reminded of effective pastoral criteria on the integrity and frequency of confession, and on certain moral cases that demand particular prudence.

Before concluding the gathering, participants also looked carefully at canon 961 of the Code of Canon Law on the invalidity of collective absolution without previous individual confession, except in the exceptional cases mentioned in canon 961 § 1. Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, commented on the document from the Bishops Conference that specified the agreed upon criteria according to which a Brazilian bishop can judge that the situation corresponds to these extraordinary cases of need as indicated in canon 961 § 2.

In finishing, the Cardinal underlined the pastoral importance of the course and the topics studied, especially in the present moment when there is such great need for this sacrament. Msgr. Vicente Ancona Lopez, the Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Brazil, highlighted the fraternal atmosphere at the event and the depth with which the various topics about Confession had been studied.

Romana, n. 49, July-December 2009, p. 340-341.

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