(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday spoke to participants of a “Course on the Internal Forum,” which deals with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the ministry of Confessors.
In his discourse, Pope Francis spoke about how the annual course helps “the Church and Confessors to better carry out the ministry of mercy, which is so important.”
He reminded priests that the Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the ministry of reconciliation, calling on them to “always be ‘men of the Holy Spirit.’” As such, priests must welcome penitents not with the attitude of a judge, but with “the charity of God, with the love a father who sees the son returning, the shepherd who has found the lost sheep.”
For this reason, the Pope said, priests are called to be generous in making themselves available for Confession. “We must never forget,” he said, “that the faithful often have difficulty approaching the Sacrament of Confession.” And so, priests must work hard to encourage people to draw near to the Sacrament “of mercy and forgiveness.”
Here, the Holy Father said, priests must avoid both rigorism and laxity. “Confession is not a court of condemnation, but an experience of mercy and forgiveness!”
Finally, recognising the difficulties encountered in Confession, Pope Francis encouraged priests to take particular care in the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In particular, he said “it’s good that in every parish, the faithful know when they can find priests” available to hear Confessions.