03/17/2017, 20.45
VATICAN

Pope leads penitential liturgy

Francis, who did not deliver the homily, was confessed for about five minutes and then confessed, for about 50 minutes, some of the faithful. This morning he said that the confessor must pray, discern – to avoid generalising – and remember that the confessional is also a place of evangelisation, because it allows an encounter with the true face of God, which is that of mercy.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis presided over the penitential service this afternoon in St Peter's Basilica during which he was confessed (pictured) for about five minutes and then confessed, for about 50 minutes, some of the faithful.

The pontiff, who did not deliver the homily, spoke this morning about confession and confessors during a meeting with participants to a course promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary on Confession.

In his address, Francis said that to be good a confessor one must pray, discern – to avoid generalising – and remember that the confessional is also a place of evangelisation, because it allows an encounter with the true face of God, which is that of mercy.

First, then, comes prayer, because "a confessor who prays knows himself to be the first sinner and the first one to be forgiven". Hence, "prayer is the first guarantee to avoid any attitude of harshness, which unnecessarily judges the sinner and not the sin."

Secondly, a good confessor "is a man of the Spirit, a man of discernment." The Spirit "allows one to empathises” with those who want to confess. “The confessor does not act out his own will nor does he teach his own doctrine. He is called to always and only do God’s will, in full communion with the Church, of which he is a minister, that is servant" for “discernment allows him to always distinguish" with a necessary demeanour “towards those who open the shrine of their conscience to receive light, peace and mercy."

The third point is that the confessional is also a place of evangelisation. "However brief the dialogue he weaves with the penitent, the confessor is called to discern what is most useful and what is even necessary for the spiritual path of this or that brother or sister". Indeed, "sometimes one will need to announce again the most elementary truths of faith. [. . .] Such an action of quick and intelligent discernment can do a lot of good for the faithful".

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