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Going to confession is not like a trip to dry cleaners, says Pope Francis

By on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Pope Francis greets the crowd in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis greets the crowd in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

Going to confession isn’t like heading off to be tortured, nor is it like going to the dry cleaners, said Pope Francis in a morning Mass homily.

The Pope was speaking during the Mass in the chapel of his current residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, which was attended by members of the Vatican’s investment agency, workers from the Vatican post office and staff from Vatican’s St Martha Dispensary, a maternal and pediatric clinic that serves mainly immigrants.

“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” he said, quoting from the First Letter of John. While everyone experiences moments of darkness in life, the verse refers to the darkness of living in error, “being satisfied with oneself, being convinced of not needing salvation,” he added.

Even though it is embarrassing to admit to and tell the truth about one’s thoughts and deeds, embarrassment or “shame is a true Christian and human virtue” linked to the traditional virtue of humility, explained Pope Francis.

“Humility and kindness are the framework of a Christian life. Oftentimes we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaners to get out a stain, but it isn’t. It’s an encounter with Jesus who waits for us to forgive us and offer salvation,” he said.

Pope Francis went on to says that confession is also not like “going to a torture session” where Jesus “is waiting to lambast me,” but “is going to praise God, because I, the sinner, have been saved by him who always forgives with tenderness.”

In his homily the Pope warned against the formation of “little groups” of self-righteous people whose hearts are closed “to the freshness of the Holy Spirit” and who “bargain with power” and try to solve problems alone.

He asked people to look at their own parish, church group or religious community and ask whether they are open to the Holy Spirit and open to spreading the word of God.

  • acero aspiro

    I was born in a Roman Catholic country, but I was not brought up as one, I will be what you call an “Evangelical”. I am the nephew of a Bishop, two monks (Augustinian and Franciscan), of an almost beatified nun. I have a good “relationship” with Roman Catholics and I have always had the opportunity of sharing my ideas and my beliefs freely. I never aim to offend anyone, because I am not interested in doing so. I may hold firmly and strongly on what I believe, but the few debates I had with Roman Catholic clergymen have always ended in a spirit of peace and a nice meal. In my country debates can be very “lively” and they will make fiery argument in a British setting sound like an afternoon tea party. The reason I comment on the Catholic Herald it is because of the Evangelical-Catholic agreement. I enjoy being in communication with Catholics. More than once in my country I was asked to speak about the Reformation by the local priests to their flocks: many false prejudices were removed from both parties and greater communication was established. Communication which improved relationship. I have also addressed Catholic groups in UK in the past, I went to visit them and they asked me to speak. I am appreciated – according to feedback I receive – because I firmly believe what I believe, but at the same time I have love for the audience. After all, Benedict – whether I am a separated brother or an heretic – you are always my neighbour whom I must love in Christ. May the Lord bless you and keep you. Remember, my friend, and I wish to address you as such with Christian affection, Christ is all and everything we have and we are must be found in Him alone. This is why His promises are so precious to me and my greatest desire is that others will be blessed by Him.

  • ZuZu Lamarr

    So, the ‘penance’ bit was missing from the title after all!

  • Benedict Carter

    What are you on about now?

  • Catherine

    There is always something to confess, and is part of keeping our souls healthy and nourished. It is worth reading Padre Pio’s book Pray Hope and Don’t Worry…his description and that of the faithful attending confession makes an interesting point on the importance and beauty however difficult, during this very special Sacrament of Reconciliation. I find it humbling, difficult, but a beautiful experience. It is not be feared, but embraced by all!