WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops have released a statement encouraging Catholics to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives and to use this Lent as an opportunity to do so.

God’s Gift of Forgiveness: The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation was approved by the full body of bishops during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore in November.

“Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Timothy Dolan have both stressed the importance of confession in strengthening our witness during the Year of Faith,” said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “The bishops have made this document available for easy distribution at the parish level this Lent, and the USCCB has produced resources that will help engage Catholics and welcome them in their journey back to the sacrament.”

Lent begins Wednesday, February 13.

The full text of the statement and the links to resources for individual Catholics and diocesan and parish staff on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are available online at: www.usccb.org/confession