Empty Confessionals

Where have all the sinners gone?

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession, and these are my sins." Many American Catholics over forty can recall some of their most intense religious experiences beginning with those words, experiences that sometimes seemed equal parts terror and relief. Today, those cadences are generally unfamiliar to Catholics under forty and virtually unknown to those under thirty. Yet for generations the formula opened that distinctively...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...


About the Author

James O’Toole teaches history at Boston College.