Warsaw (AFP) – Wearing a sun hat and face mask, a Polish priest sits in the parking lot of a large Warsaw church and hears confession from a driver parked nearby.
The arrangement was introduced so Catholics could fulfil their requirement to confess before Easter even though churches in the country are closed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It makes no difference, since confession does not depend on the location. It’s a sacrament,” Marcin, 44, told AFP after unveiling his sins.
“At various points in my life I’ve confessed in different places, be it standing up, while walking or on my knees in a confessional,” added Marcin, who works for the football club Legia Warsaw.
A long line of cars waited in the sun, their drivers waiting for a turn to speak with the priest at the Temple of Divine Providence.
Others arrived on foot and sat in a chair positioned so that they and the priest could avoid eye contact and respect social distancing rules.
Some also wore face masks to keep virus from spreading.
“It’s strange. I feel weird,” said Karolina, a 40-year-old accountant.
“But for safety reasons and the sake of maintaining peace of mind while confessing, I think it’s good,” she told AFP.
Priests in other Polish cities have also begun holding drive-through confession, following an example set by clerics in the United States.
Since the pandemic began, Polish religious authorities have reminded Catholics that confession via telephone or the internet is not valid.
The in-person site does not have to be a church confessional, however.