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Pope Francis hears confessions during World Youth Day in Panama Pope Francis hears confessions during World Youth Day in Panama 

Pope Francis on the importance of the Seal of Confession

Pope Francis addresses participants in the 30th Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Friday received the over 700 participants in a Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary insisting on the fact that it is to be taken very seriously.

The Course aims to contribute to the formation of good confessors.

In unscripted remarks at the beginning of his speech, the Pope noted  that in some cases Church superiors are known to use notions of the Internal Forum to make decisions that are not internal, and vice versa. This, he said, “is a sin against the dignity of the person who puts his or her trust in the priest when he or she is asking for forgiveness”.

“The Internal Forum is the Internal Forum. It's something sacred.  I wanted to say this because I am concerned” he said. 

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The Pope went on to explain that the Ministry of Reconciliation requires "adequate formation, so that the encounter with the faithful who ask God's forgiveness proves to be a real encounter of salvation, in which the embrace of the Lord is perceived in all of its strength, its capacity for renewal, conversion, purification and forgiveness”.

A vital theme for the life of the Church

Pope Francis praised the training programme that the Apostolic Penitentiary - the oldest Tribunal at the service of the Popes - has been offering for the past 30 years.

He noted that the participation of so many in the course is proof of a need for solid formation in matters that are “so important for the very life of the Church and the fulfilment of the mission that the Lord entrusted to it”.

Loss of the sense of sin

He said that within the contemporary context in which man tends “to lose the sense of sin and therefore of confession”, this formation reveals a consistent interest “in working together to face and overcome the crisis with the weapons of faith” by offering “an ever more qualified service capable of truly manifesting the beauty of divine Mercy”.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Pope said is “a path to holiness” for both the penitent and the confessor. This Sacrament, he explained, restores “full communion with God”, from which man sometimes strays by misusing the magnificent gift of freedom.

No jurisdiction can interfere with the “Sacramental seal”

The Pope underscored the importance of the secrecy of confession by explaining that Reconciliation is “a good that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded, strenuously, with the Sacramental seal.

He said that even if this is not always understood by modern mentality, it is indispensable for the holiness of the Sacrament and for the penitent’s freedom of conscience.

“No human power has jurisdiction over it, nor can it claim it”, he said.

The Pope concluded his address inviting the priests to “always listen with great generosity to the confessions of the faithful”, to walk with them along this “path of holiness” and to “contemplate the miracles of conversion that grace works in the secret of the confessional: miracles of which only you and the angels will witness”.



29 March 2019, 15:37