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Confession not black and white

KRAKOW (SE): There are a few football teams that wear black and white, but beyond that there is little in life that can be described as being anything other than shades of grey.

On July 30, Pope Francis told a group of Polish Jesuits during World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, that the confessional is certainly one of those grey areas.

The United States of America Catholic publication, Crux, reported that Pope Francis encouraged his fellow Jesuits to teach young priests how to cope with the grey situations of life that continually come up in the confessional.

“The Church today needs to grow in the ability of spiritual discernment,” Pope Francis told them, adding, “some programmes of priestly formation run the risk of educating in the light of overly clear and distinct ideas, and therefore act within limits and criteria that are rigidly defined in advance, and set aside concrete situations. This must not be done.”

The pope added that it is essential that this attitude be taught during formation years, because as time goes on they can become set in their ways and incapable of accompanying young people or adults in their life journey.

“And many people leave the confessional disappointed. Not because the priest is bad, but because the priest doesn’t have the ability to discern situations, to accompany them in authentic discernment,” the pope said, adding, “They don’t have the needed formation.”

Pope Francis added that it is not only priests who need to learn discernment, but the laity also, “because in life, not everything is black over white or white over black. No! The shades of grey prevail in life. We must teach them to discern this grey area.”

He then quoted Father Hugo Rahner sj, the brother of the more famous Father Karl Rahner, as saying, “The Jesuit must therefore be capable of discerning both in the field of God and in the field of the devil.”

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