VATICAN CITY — Adult converts to Catholicism regularly cite three things about Catholicism that they find attractive: the sacrament of confession, the pope and devotion to Mary, said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

“Those three things, guess what, were kind of de-emphasized” after the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal said Oct. 15 during a brief meeting with English-speaking reporters at the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

In his formal talk to the synod, Cardinal Dolan had said that a renewed appreciation for the sacrament of reconciliation is essential for the church’s new evangelization.

He told reporters that “it seemed to be a truism after the Second Vatican Council that the council did away with the sacrament of penance, which, of course, is not true.”

Instead of renewing the sacrament as the council wanted, he said, “we just gave up and we said, ‘Well, that ain’t going over,’ so we stopped trying.”

The interesting thing, Cardinal Dolan said, is that the sacrament of reconciliation actually is something attractive to many people, especially the young.

“They will often say that the church seems impersonal to them, a little faceless nameless,” he said. “Well, boy, you can’t find a more personal sacrament than penance. I mean this is one on one.”

Cardinal Dolan said he never understood the desire to expand use of so-called general absolution, which the Vatican has severely restricted, because it was like “a drive-in carwash” and highly impersonal.

“There is nothing more personal” than going to confession one-on-one, “actually articulating sins and hearing an unworthy ambassador of Jesus say you are forgiven,” the cardinal said.