Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)

Schools and Centres

Philosophy and Theology

First Supervisor

Dr. Clare Johnson


The Sacrament of Penance in the Australian Catholic Church is experiencing a pastoral decline. Concurrently, in the secular world, increasingly people are demanding and experiencing rituals of communal apology for social sin. Secular communal apologies (and rituals of forgiveness) appear to be speaking to people in a way that existing liturgical rituals in the church are not. There are no communal rituals for the acknowledgement of social sin currently included in the Rite of Penance. This is a lacuna in the church’s ritual complex that needs to be addressed. This dissertation will analyse several recent communal apologies for social sin in order to discern how they appear to be meeting a discernible need among the community that is not being met by current practice of ecclesial penitential rituals, and in order that what is learned from them may enrich and inform the liturgical rituals of forgiveness and reconciliation in the Australian Catholic Church. In particular this dissertation will examine the Penitential Celebration outlined in the Rite of Penance, as a rite with great potential to address the current ritual void regarding appropriate acknowledgement of the problem of social sin in the Church.

Included in

Religion Commons