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Pope Francis' reflections

placeholder March 14, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
Pope Francis' reflections

Get thee to a confessional
Go to confession. Soon. For Pope Francis, the Year of Mercy is all about sharing the experience of God's mercy with others. But first, he wants people to experience it themselves, in the confessional. The pope has said he goes to confession every two weeks, and he has done so very publicly, most noticeably in 2014 during a Lenten penance service in St. Peter's Basilica, photo above. "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. … This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and from the church in the person of the priest.

"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 repeatedly has told priests that in the confessional they should ask only questions that help penitents recognize their sins rather than conducting "a heavy, finicky and invasive interrogation."

As he said in December 2014, "Go to confession to clean up a bit. This is good for you."

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