During his catechesis at the General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about forgiveness and Confession. He said that God never tires of forgiving, and he urged all Catholics to never tire of asking for forgiveness. The Pope also acknowledged that he too goes to Confession.
“Our mothers, our grandmothers said that it's better to turn red once, than to turn pale thousands. You turn red once, you're absolved of your sins, and you move on. Even I go to Confession every 15 days, because the Pope is also a sinner. And the confessor listens to what I tell him, he advises me and absolves me, because we are all in need of this forgiveness.”
The Pope explained that the task of forgiving sins is so delicate, that if a priest is not merciful and benevolent, he should avoid being a confessor.
“Penitents have... the obligation? No. They have the right! We have the right, all of us, to find in priests, the servants of forgiveness from God.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today I would like to speak again on the forgiveness of sins by reflecting on the power of the keys, which is a biblical symbol of the mission Jesus entrusted to the Apostles.
First and foremost, we recall that the source of the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit, whom the Risen Jesus bestowed upon the Apostles. Hence, he made the Church the guardian of the keys, of this power. The Church, however, is not the master of forgiveness, but its servant. The Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives and calls us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension. We receive forgiveness through the priest. Through his ministry, God has given us a brother to bring us forgiveness in the name of the Church. Priests, who are the servants of this sacrament, must recognize that they also are in need of forgiveness and healing, and so they must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy. Let us then remember always that God never tires of forgiving us. Let us truly value this sacrament and rejoice in the gift of pardon and healing that comes to us through the ministry of priests.
Addressing the heads of other churches—including the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols—Archbishop Welby admitted that confessing one’s weaknesses to someone else might not be a “bunch of laughs,” still he believes that unburdening oneself to a confessor is good for the soul.
“It is enormously powerful and hideously painful when it’s done properly,” he said. “It’s really horrible when you go to see your confessor – I doubt you wake up in the morning and think, this is going to be a bunch of laughs.” But speaking about it as part of a “wider catholic tradition,” Archbishop Welby encouraged his congregants to try it for themselves.
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