Vatican City, Dec 18, 2013 / 12:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has strongly encouraged the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Curia to spend time hearing confessions weekly at a local parish, according to a priest of the church in question, Santo Spirito in Sassia.
The announcement was made at the end of evening Mass on Dec. 15 by Fr. Jozef Bart, a parish priest at Santo Spirito in Sassia, and was reported by “Inside the Vatican.”
Fr. Bart announced that the initiative “had been planned to begin in January, but this week, word came down that the Pope wished to begin immediately.”
According to Fr. Bart, Pope Francis is doing this because “he wishes to emphasize the importance of Confession, and of God’s great goodness in forgiving human sin.”
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, has already been hearing Confessions at the parish for “several weeks,” according to “Inside the Vatican.”
Santo Spirito in Sassia is located on the Via dei Penitenzieri, a walk of about 1,300 feet, or 5-6 minutes, from the front of St. Peter's Square, and is dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion. It is a cardinal titular church, currently held by Cardinal-Priest Fiorenzo Angelini.
Pope Francis has several times underscored the importance of the Confession for Christian life, especially during the homilies he gives during Mass at the Saint Martha House chapel.
On Oct. 25, Pope Francis preached that “confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing’.”
Pope Francis often affirms that he himself is a sinner, and has made it known that he goes to Confession every two weeks.
According to a Vatican source who spoke to CNA Dec. 13, Pope Francis wanted to make it clear that he confesses.
The source recounted that during his trip to Brazil for the World Youth Day, Pope Francis felt the need to confess, and asked for a confessor. The confessor went to hear Pope Francis’ confession and, after the confession, he told Pope Francis that he did not want to be noticed.
Pope Francis said, “You must be noticed, because it must be clear that the Pope himself goes to confession."