Vatican City AsiaNews) - "We all have to confess even the Pope goes to confession every 15 days , because the Pope is also a sinner And the confessor listens to the things that I tell him, he advises me and forgives me, because we all need this forgiveness" that is given by God through our "brother priest". Pope Francis returned to the subject of the forgiveness of sins - last week having spoke about it in reference to baptism - this week in relation to the "power of the keys" .
Addressing the 50 thousand people present in St Peter's
Square for the general audience he explained that this expression refers to the
"biblical symbol of the mission that Jesus gave to the apostles."
"First of all - he said - we must remember that the protagonist of the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit . He is the protagonist! In his first appearance to the Apostles in the Upper Room ... the Risen Jesus made the gesture of blowing on them , saying," receive the Holy Spirit , if whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained'. " Jesus transfigured in his body, is now the new man, who offers Easter gifts fruit of his death and resurrection: and what are these gifts? Peace, joy, forgiveness of sins, mission, but he also gifts the Holy Spirit who is the source of all this. All of these gifts come from the Holy Spirit". "But before he makes the gesture of breathing and donating the Spirit, Jesus shows his wounds" which "represent the cost of our salvation ."
A second aspect highlighted by
the Pope is the power given to the apostles to forgive sins . "It's a bit
difficult to understand how a man can forgive sins. Jesus gives the power. The
Church is the depositary of the power of the keys: so as to open or close, to
forgive. God forgives every man in his sovereign mercy, but He himself wished
that those who belong to Christ and to his Church , receive forgiveness through
the ministers of the Community. Through the apostolic ministry God's mercy
reaches me , my sins are forgiven and I am given joy. In this way Jesus call us
to live reconciliation even in the ecclesial, community dimension. And this is
But "the Church is not master of the power of the keys: it is not master, it is a servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time that it can offer this divine gift".
"So many people perhaps do not understand the ecclesial dimension of forgiveness , because individualism , subjectivism always dominates, and affects us Christians too. Of course, God forgives every repentant sinner, personally, but the Christian is bound to Christ, and Christ is united to the Church. And for us Christians there is one extra gift, and there is also an extra commitment: to humbly pass through the ministry of the Church". "And we should appreciate this! It is a gift, it is also a cure, it is a protection and also the assurance that God has forgiven me. I go to this brother priest and say: ' But , father, I did this ... ' . but I forgive you : it is God who forgives and I'm sure , at that moment, that God has forgiven me . This is nice! This is what it means to be sure when we say: ' God always forgives us ! He never tires of forgiving! . 'We must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness. ' But, father, I am ashamed to go confess my sins ... ' . ' But , look, our mothers , our women said that it is better to go red in the face once than yellow a thousand times ! ' And once you become a red, He forgives our sins and we move on! "
The priest is a "tool for
the forgiveness of sins. God's forgiveness that is given to us in the Church, that
is transmitted to us through the ministry of our brother". "Sometimes
you hear someone say that they confess directly to God ... Yes, as I said
before, God always listens, but in the Sacrament of Reconciliation He sends us a
brother to bring forgiveness, the certainty of forgiveness on behalf of the
The role of confessor, concluded Francis, is "very delicate and requires that his heart is at peace; that he does not afflict the faithful, but it is meek, benevolent and merciful; that he knows how to sow hope in hearts and above all, be aware that the brother or sister who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation is seeking forgiveness, like those many people who drew near to Jesus to be healed". "It would be better that a priest without this state of mind not administer the sacrament until he corrects it".
Turning finally to the Italian faithful, the Pope had a thought "for the victims of the recent flooding in Sardinia : We pray for them and for their families and we stand in solidarity with those who have suffered damage " and urged those present to pray "to Our Lady to bless and help all our Sardinian brothers and sisters".