I was chatting with a former seminary professor of mine today, and we got on to the topic of pastoral practices in Quebec related to sin and the forgiveness of sins. He was of the opinion that one of the major reasons that many brother priests don’t hear confessions anymore is because they don’t want to have to pronounce themselves on moral issues. For myself, I think a major reason is a faulty soteriology (theology of salvation).
Simply put, Christian universalism is on the rise, especially in Quebec, in which people basically believe that everyone is saved no matter what (i.e. Hell is a merely theoretical reality). In this view, what we do here on Earth matters, but only to those here on Earth; individual sin is only problematic in terms of the negative social structures it produces; and confession is essentially a form of therapy.
Now it may be that the faulty soteriology is in place because people don’t want to hear confessions, and not the other way around. After all, self-justification through fancy theories does occur from time to time. But since the theology of salvation is THE theology that drives all others, at least in terms of developing a pastoral approach, we do need to get a grip on it.