Active instrument of divine mercy
Give Confession top priority, Pope asks priests
The Holy Father was speaking to the father-confessors of the Roman basilica and the officials of the Apostolic Penitentiary, led by Cardinal James Stafford. He told them that the priest, as confessor, is an “active instrument of divine mercy.”
The task of the confessor, the Pope said, is to help the penitent “recognize the gravity of sin,” and resolve to avoid sin in the future, while provide “the comfort and consolation of Christ.”
“How many penitents find in confession the peace and joy they were seeking for so long!” the Pope said. He encouraged priests to help the faithful use the sacrament properly. To do so, he said, confessors must learn as much as possible about the background of their people, the problems they face, and the spiritual problems they encounter.
Above all, the Pope continued, “We cannot preach forgiveness and reconciliation to others if we do not experience these things personally.” He encouraged confessors to make frequent use of the sacrament themselves, so that they too have a fuller appreciation for the forgiveness offered by Christ through his priestly ministers.
The sacrament of Penance, the Pontiff concluded, “is a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority."