The Owl of the Remove has a very interesting post about confessions. He suggests that part of what is wrong is that Saturday is just not a good time to hear them. Here in the Adur Valley, I do half an hour on Saturday morning in Shoreham, half an hour on Saturday evening in Upper Beeding, and half an hour on Thursday morning in Steyning. The response is not encouraging, really. I suppose about a third of the Sunday Mass attendance come to the Advent and Lent Penitential Services (which have individual confessions and absolution as part of it), but this means that two thirds of the parish probably hardly ever come. As those of you who are parishioners know, I do preach about it and I do encourage it, but it doesn't seem to have much effect.
I would like really to make it available during Sunday Mass sometimes. I used to do that occasionally when I was a University Chaplain. Yes, yes, I know; perhaps it isn't liturgically ideal, but I think that probably it is more important to get people back to the sacrament. But one needs another priest who also thinks it's a good idea.
Now we celebrate the Extraordinary Use on Saturdays, the numbers who come to confession on a Saturday morning have improved a little.
But I must say I like the Washington idea as told by Fr Owl; that every priest should be in his confessional throughout the diocese one evening a week during Lent. That's very creative and might well catch people's imaginations.
And would people find an evening slot, perhaps with Eucharistic Adoration, more acceptable?