The newspaper reported that "upwards of 450 people" celebrate the sacrament in one of the parish's 15 weekly time slots for confession (including prior to almost every Mass).
For some, the availability of anonymous confession has made it easier for them to avail themselves of the sacrament than when the parish offered only a face-to-face reconciliation room.
Personally, I have somewhat of an aversion to the old-style confessional that dates back to the years I lived in Rome, where that's pretty much all that was available.
About once a month I'd head to St. Peter's Basilica where there was always at least one confessional with "English" among other languages advertised. These were the classic wooden stand-alone confessionals; the priest sat in a center box hidden behind a curtain, and penitents took to a kneeler on either side.
I dreaded it.
Europeans don't have our concept of personal space. If I stood back at a discreet distance to avoid overhearing the person ahead of me, someone, usually a nun, would cut in front, standing virtually on the soles of the kneeling penitent.
Then, when it finally came my time to confess, I always had the uncomfortable impression kneeling there that there was someone, usually a nun, standing close enough behind to touch me.
Add to that the fact that St. Peter's Basilica is a major tourist destination. Until 2000, when the confessionals were placed in a roped-off area, it was not uncommon for curious and baffled Asian tourists to peer into the confessional to figure out what you were doing.
You see how scarred I am. But that explains why, these days, I prefer to visit soundproof, spacious reconciliation rooms, especially if there's a screen and kneeler to use.
A popular Catholic blog recently hosted a discussion among readers as to their preference: screened, or face-to-face.
It was fascinating reading. Two of the many comments stood out to me. One advocate of the face-to-face approach argued that it was better preparation for the embarrassment of Judgment Day: "I want the full impact of what I have done or not done with a face-to-face."
On the other side of the question, someone argued that the risk of face-to-face is that the penitent can be distracted by watching the priest's facial expressions and body language to see how he's receiving what's being said. A screen keeps the focus on Christ.
What is your preference? Why? Leave your preference in the comments
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