CatholicCulture.Org – Speaking on March 28 to a group of 600 priests, Pope Francis said that any priest who does not devote himself to hearing confessions “is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost sheep.”
In an address to participants in an annual course on the internal forum, organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Pope made three main points about the role of the priest as confessor.
First, he said, “the agent of the ministry of reconciliation is the Holy Spirit.” Therefore priests must be “men of the Holy Spirit.” He urged priests to approach this ministry “not with the attitude of a judge or even that of a friend, but with God’s charity.”
Second, the Pope continued, priests should “work hard upon ourselves…so as never to be an obstacle” to penitents. He reminded the priests: “Confession is not a sentencing court, but rather and experience of forgiveness and mercy.”
Finally, the Pope said that since the sacrament of Confession has often been neglected in recent years, priests to take pains to restore appreciation for the sacrament. “It is essential that in every parish the faithful know when they can find available priests,” he said. “When there is trust, the fruits can be seen.”