By Damon Mitchell • 04 May 2020 • 16:51
A PRIEST in Limoges, France has started taking drive-through confessions on Saturday mornings as a way of bringing spiritual comfort to people.
Set up in the car park of a church, the “confessional” established by Père David de Lestapis enables people to park next to a tent where the priest can hear them speak through the car window. The open-air nature of the parking means that nobody else can hear what is said.
With the exception of funerals, which have a limit of 20 people attending, all communal religious activities have been banned during the lockdown until at least June 2.
Père de Lestapis, the priest in charge of Saint Jean-Paul II parish got the idea after seeing reports of drive-in church ceremonies in America and drive-through confessions in Poland.
“It seemed a good idea and I thought I would give it a go, especially as members of our congregation had said how much they were affected by not being allowed to celebrate Easter in church,” he said.
The first morning three people attended for confession in the advertised two-hour time slot, with eight last weekend, around the same number who normally attend each Saturday’s confession in the church.
“The fact that someone is in their car allows a certain discretion,” said Père de Lestapis.
Messages of support have come from members of the parish who say they are happy that the priest is thinking of imaginative ways to help them during the lockdown.
“For Catholics, there is something therapeutic about going to confession, to seek forgiveness, and for some people, it is an important part of living their faith,” he said.
“Our hearts need to find peace and to be healed in these difficult times.”
The parish is to hold another drive confession next Saturday, after which, with the easing of restrictions, it hoped to return to normal inside the church.
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