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...

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About the Author

James O’Toole teaches history at Boston College.