Although Popes, especially recent ones, have administered the Sacrament of Reconciliation in public, no Pope has ever gone to confession in public. But as with so many other things during his first year as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has changed that too.
On Saturday Pope Francis could be seen at one of the confessionals in St. Peter's Basilica. After his turn, he spent another 40 minutes hearing confessions.
God's mercy is a central theme of Pope Francis's first year, and in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), he speaks of the Church as a field hospital, where those who need healing are welcome. He has encouraged an embrace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and now leads us by his example.
For more on the Exhortation, look at the front page of our website for a video by Fr. John Stowe, OFM Conv., Rector and Pastor of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.