I know that's a contentious headline, but let me put two scenarios to you:
At one English, home counties parish where I lived very briefly but did not go to Mass (I was in London at weekends so would go in the capital) I sought out the parish priest to go to Confession during the week a few times. I could have gone in London, but there was always a "will I make it in time" as I sat on the tube heading across town.
After a couple of phone calls I arranged to meet the priest and as the Anglo-Saxons would say, was 'shrivened.' I can't remember when the priest said it, but it was, I think, after a few visits, that he confided in me that I was the only person in the parish who went to Confession. To say I was shocked was an understatement.
How could a busy home counties parish have no-one (let's discount me as I didn't go to Mass there) going to Confession? It seems almost preposterous.
My second example is of a cleric (not my parish priest, but I have been to Confession with him) who recently told me of a Bishop who, when someone went to Confession, the person was told afterwards 'not to go so often' as his previous Confession had been a week before.
Now I know priests place a lot of emphasis on Confession. I can remember two or three parish priests reinforcing the vital importance of Confession in their homilies, so I don't think this is a problem of the priests. I know many 'locals' who frequent Confession too, so perhaps it isn't as big a problem as I fear.When I went to Confession many years ago (late 80s) at my 'mother church' there would always be a small queue, but then it was a large parish.
Just a thought, but with frequent Communion promoted, might it not be an idea for Bishops to promote (or insist!) on frequent Confession?
I do not wish to come across as "holier than thou" - after all I don't go to Confession as often as I probably should and I, like everyone else, need the help and support that Confession gives to stay on the straight and narrow, and to pick me up when I do stumble.
With this Sacramental jewel in the crown of the Catholic Church free and accessible to all, I do worry that perhaps, it is not used as much as it should be. Or are some parishes better than others?
I would be interested to know what other Catholics think.
P.S. if you get the chance, read the book A Victim to the Seal of Confession, a wonderful story about how and why the seal of Confession works, why it is there and why a priest will never betray that seal regardless of the consequences.