*** DEBUG END ***

No confession and absolution?

18 July 2014


At an Ascension Day service there was no confession and no absolution. When I questioned the priest, saying that I did not think the service was valid, he simply said "Oh." I then said: "Does that not concern you?" and he replied "No." Am I correct in my assumption?

This omission was of no major consequence, and in no way can it be assumed to have affected the validity of the eucharist. It is only Prayer Book fundamentalists who might complain, because the penitential material in the BCP is regarded as integral preparation for the reception of holy communion.

Modern liturgies include general confession and absolution or Kyrie confessions, but allow their omission on some occasions, as in the Liturgy of Ascension Day in Common Worship: Times and Seasons (pages 469-481). At the Gathering, the sequence is: greeting, the Ascension reading, immediately followed by Gloria in Excelsis, and the collect. Many congregations are not aware that this authorised pattern deliberately excludes a confession and absolution.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

The priest was quite correct. In Common Worship: Times and Seasons, the suggested liturgy for Ascension Day is set out in detail; and there is no mention of confession and absolution, as also there isn't in the Palm Sunday and Pentecost liturgies. Perhaps, however, the priest concerned could have been rather more gracious towards the parishioner.

(The Revd) Alan Wright
Barton upon Humber
North Lincolnshire

Any act of Christian worship is impoverished if there is no opportunity to express penitence. We are surrounded by a culture of humanism which plays down any hint of human failing in ourselves, while taking every opportunity to point the finger at others. If Jesus really is Good News, there has to be bad news in the first place, and that bad news is the reality of human sin, which is manifest every time we turn on the news.

Penitence is an expression of our necessary humility, and it is a particularly important part of the communion service, in which we remember that Jesus conquered death to save us from the penalty and power of our sin.

(The Revd) Martin Jewitt
Folkestone, Kent


I have been invited to an induction and institution that is to be taken wholly by an archdeacon. I feel that a bishop (retired, if need be) should be present. I have been invited to another induction, which a retired diocesan is taking. What do others think?

When used either indiscriminately or synonymously, the ecclesiastical terms "institution" and "induction" can cause confusion. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states: "Institution: the term used to denote the admission of a new incumbent into the spiritual care of the parish. It is contrasted with the (subsequent) induction which admits into the temporalities of the cure. The institution is performed before the bishop of the diocese, and (unlike) the induction may take place anywhere."

The questioner correctly understands the bishop's essential ministry in expectation that he would officiate at the public service. Circumstances, however, often demand the appointment of a commissary, who, on behalf of the bishop and in his name, will administer the oaths and declarations and perform the institution.

During a vacancy in a see, the episcopal guardian of spiritualities appoints another person, be it the Dean or Archdeacon, to act, or likewise in the event of a bishop's illness or legitimate absence from the diocese. On the other hand, inductions are normally, by right, conducted by the Archdeacon - or otherwise by some other authorised minister, as in this case, a retired bishop - that is, unless in reality he is functioning as the diocesan bishop's official commissary for an institution that has been inaccurately described simply as an induction.

Whoever presides is less important than that these public occasions enable parishioners to welcome their new incumbent with greater understanding of a parish priest's duties and responsibilities, and the need for their support.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

I was disappointed not to have a bishop at my most recent induction and licensing in 2011, especially as the date had been delayed for several months in order for there to be one present. The archdeacon did a great job, however, and, three years on, I can honestly say it has made no difference to my ministry or how I and others view the validity of that original service.

(The Revd) Sarah Hillman Puddletown, Dorset


What is the best way to clean a silver thurible?

A. G.


Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, London EC1Y 0TG.



Wed 17 Aug @ 03:06
Coming up in the week ahead on Radio and on TV https://t.co/DrqnkcgEym

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)