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ConfessionCatholics, Repentance, and Forgiveness in America$
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Patrick W. Carey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190889135

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190889135.001.0001

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History, Pius X, and the Practice of Confession, 1900–20

History, Pius X, and the Practice of Confession, 1900–20

(p.135) Chapter 6 History, Pius X, and the Practice of Confession, 1900–20

Patrick W. Carey

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates how a few Catholic seminary professors in the first two decades of the twentieth century began to reconsider and critique the nineteenth-century Catholic understanding of the history of confession in light of Henry Charles Lea’s history of auricular confession and John Henry Newman’s theory of the development of doctrine. That re-examination of the early church’s history of penance met strong resistance from Pope Pius X’s anti-modernist campaign because the new approach clashed with Trent’s understanding of the divine origin of the early church’s practice of auricular confession. The pope, however, also promoted a liturgical revival in the Church that focused on active participation in the Eucharist that had consequences for American Catholic emphases on frequent confession for children as well as adults in preparation for communion. By 1920 that Pian revival in the United States reinforced the nineteenth-century promotion of frequent and devotional confessions.

Keywords:   history of penance, John Henry Newman, Henry Charles Lea, Pius X, Lamentabili, Pascendi, Modernism, Edward Hanna, liturgical revival, children’s confession

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