They who have sinned in divers particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offence.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Those who have fallen unto various faults and have confessed them with compunction, and done the penance suitable to them, shall be favourably received.
p. 126 Hefele.
Van Espen and others were of opinion that this canon treated only of those who had themselves been guilty of various criminal acts, and it has been asked whether any one guilty not only of one gross sin, but of several of various kinds, might also be again received into communion. It seems to me, however, that this canon with the words, “those who have sinned in divers particulars,” simply means that “sinners of various kinds shall be treated exactly in proportion to the extent of their fall.” That the question is not necessarily of different sins committed by the same person appears from the words, “in proportion to the nature of their offence,” as the singular, not the plural, is here used.
But Van Espen, with Aubespine, is clearly right in not referring the words, “if they persevere in confession and repentance,” to sacramental confession, to which the expression “persevere” would not be well suited. Here is evidently meant the oft-repeated contrite confession before God and the congregation in prayer of sins committed, which preceded sacramental confession and absolution.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratians Decretum, Pars II., Causa XXVI., Quæst. vii., can. iv.