Pope Francis to Capuchins: awareness of sin key to mercy
The Mass was offered in connection with the presence in Rome and at St. Peter’s of the relics of two great Capuchin saints, who were renowned in their earthly lives as priest-confessors: St. Pius of Pietralcina (or St. Padre Pio as he is popularly known) and St. Leopold of Mandic.
“I speak to you as a brother,” said Pope Francis to the Capuchins present, “and through you I would like to speak to all confessors, especially in the Year of Mercy: the confessional is for pardon – and [even] if you cannot give absolution – let me say hypothetically – please, do not beat up on the penitent; one who comes [to the confessional], comes seeking comfort, pardon, peace in his soul; let him find a father who embraces him and says, ‘God loves you,’ and makes the penitent feel that God really does.”
The Holy Father went on to express a desire to see confessors everywhere with broad minds and open hearts, who never tire of being vehicles of divine pardon, and who understand the suffering of penitents because they know themselves to be sinners and the first to be in need of God’s saving mercy.
“Either you perform the office of Jesus, who forgives, giving His [whole] life in prayer – so many hours there [in the confessional], seated as were those two [Sts. Pius and Leopold] there,” said Pope Francis, “or, you perform the office of the devil who condemns, who accuses – I do not know – I can tell you nothing else.”