July 20, 2008
By Pauline Askin
SYDNEY (Reuters) - At most outdoor festivals the longest queues are generally for the portable toilets and bar but at World Youth Day in Sydney, the Catholic Church's version of Woodstock, one of the biggest queues is for confessing sins.
With some 300,000 young Catholic pilgrims attending WYD from July 15-20 the Church is staging the world's largest confessional, with more than 1,000 priests at anyone time hearing sins and dispensing penance at 250 locations.
Organisers have tried to be attentive to the sensitivity of confession and ensure pilgrims do not overhear each other's sins. "Whilst we don't have sound proof venues, they are padded dividers between stalls and they are in locations where there is so much going on and background noise," said Caron.
"At any one time there could easily be 1,000 priests hearing confession," Caron said. "We're not keeping track of the numbers (of sinners), but at the main venue in Darling Harbour Convention Centre it's very steady all the time."