VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If you haven’t been to confession recently, don’t wait, Pope Francis told people at his weekly general audience. One may walk into the confessional with a heavy heart, but forgiveness brings freedom and lightness.
“If a lot of time has passed, don’t lose even one more day. Go,” the pope said Feb. 19, promising that “the priest will be good. Jesus will be there and he’s even nicer than the priest.”
“Be courageous. Go to confession,” the pope told an estimated 20,000 people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“Even just on a human level in order to vent, it’s good to speak to a brother, confessing to the priest these things that weigh so heavily on your heart,” the pope said. “Don’t be afraid of confession.”
Pope Francis said he wanted to follow up on his previous audience talks about baptism, Communion and confirmation.
Those sacraments give new life, he said, but sin eats away at that new life and can destroy it, which is why Jesus gave his disciples the power to forgive sins in the name of God and the Christian community.
“Some say, ‘I confess only to God.’ Yes, you can say, ‘God forgive me,’ but our sins are also against our brothers and sisters, against the church,” which is called to be holy, he said. “This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and from the church in the person of the priest.”
Pope Francis said he knows some might say to him, “‘but, Father, I’m ashamed.’ Shame is good, it’s healthy to have a bit of shame,” because “shame makes us more humble.”
“Sometimes when you’re in line for confession, you feel all sorts of things, especially shame, but when your confession is over, you’ll leave free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy — this is what’s beautiful about confession,” he said.
The pope asked people at the audience to think about how long it’s been since they have been to confession. “Don’t say it out loud, OK? but respond in your heart: When was the last time you confessed. Two days? Two weeks? Two years? Twenty years? Forty years?”
Citing the “beautiful, beautiful” Gospel story of the Prodigal Son who returned home after squandering his father’s inheritance, Pope Francis said the father didn’t even wait for the son to finish asking forgiveness. “He hugged him, kissed him and threw a party.”
“I tell you,” the pope said, “every time we go to confession, God embraces us and celebrates.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103