In First Things, here's Amanda Shaw talking about a curious development in confessions:
I’ve heard priests remark about the disconcerting tendency of penitents to confess other people’s sins. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My spouse got angry because I misplaced the car keys . . . ” Then, there’s our curious compulsion to confess offenses that are long past–the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Columbus and Cortez. It’s a way of acknowledging the sins of our heritage, atoning for the atrocities of our unenlightened ancestors.Read more.
And yet, like the words of the finger-pointing penitent, there’s something decidedly imperfect about these comfortably distanced acts of contrition. “False Apology Syndrome,” Theodore Dalrymple calls it in the Templeton Foundation’s In Character journal. Under the guise of assuming the guilt of the past, it sets the righteous present apart in self-congratulatory humility: