A commenter in another post noted that his parish keeps track of how many confessions are heard on any given weekend, and then publishes the tally in the Sunday bulletin.
Color me surprised.
This is something new to me. Parishes routinely announce other sacraments — baptisms, weddings, even confirmations — but I’ve never heard of one keeping a count, and actually publishing the number of confessions. The weekly collection? Sure. Confession? No.
I asked a priest in my parish what he thought; he furrowed his brow and wrinkled his nose and uttered one word that summed it up for me:
I just don’t know. Do they think this encourages people to go? Do they see this as a moral barometer? It just strikes me as odd — and, in a way, it’s an exercise that reduces the sacrament to mere numbers on a page. It’s a little like publishing the number of people who receive communion on Sunday. And it may well be misleading, anyway; people will often go to confession wherever and whenever they can, depending on when it is convenient — or where they can find a priest who doesn’t know them personally. (I’ve heard that this is one reason why cruise ships are popular places for confession.)
I’m curious to hear what others think. Have you heard of this practice before? Do you think it encourages more frequent celebration of the sacrament?
UPDATE: The pastor who does this left the following comment on another thread:
This is a practice that was instituted by the former pastor of Holy Rosary. I always look upon it as a great tool and something that, in its way, could be used to persuade priests, who might not have confessions very often, to do a bit of re-evaluation. No one has ever made any objection to its inclusion in the bulletin. It’s there with Mass attendance and with collection totals. I look with pride on it, actually. It tells me that confession IS useful and that people, despite the “oh, there’s no such thing as sin” that we hear these days, WANT to go to confession.