During the Jubilee Audience in St. Peter’s Square, on Saturday 30th April, Pope Francis addressed the huge audience and made it clear that ‘Confession’ “is not a torture chamber or an interrogation”. The Holy Father encouraged people to always feel free to reconcile their ways with God, he also asked confessors to be careful as not to use man made rules to construct obstacles that would scare people away from reconciling with God.
“This Jubilee of Mercy is a time of reconciliation for all. Many people would like to reconcile with God but do not know how, or do not feel worthy, or will not admit it even to themselves. The Christian community can and must encourage a sincere return to God for those who feel his nostalgia. Especially those who carry out the ministry of reconciliation are called to be docile instruments of the Holy Spirit, so that where sin abounded the mercy of God may abound. No one should be distant from God because of obstacles placed by men! And this is also true – and I underline this – for confessors, it is valid for them: please, do not put obstacles in the paths of people who want to be reconciled to God. The confessor is to be a father! He takes the place of God the Father! The confessor must welcome people who come to him to be reconciled to God and help them walk this path of reconciliation. It is a beautiful ministry: it is not a torture chamber or an interrogation, no, it is the Father who receives and welcomes and forgives this person. Let us be reconciled with God! All of us!” Pope Francis told the over 60,000 pilgrims who attended this April 30th’s extraordinary Audience.
The Holy Father continued saying “in reality, sinning, we are the ones who distance ourselves from Him, but He, seeing the danger, seeks us out even more. God is never resigned to the possibility that a person remains distant to his love, provided, however, He finds in them some sign of repentance for the evil done”.
This Holy Year, the Pope continued, “is the favourable time to rediscover the need for tenderness and closeness to the Father to return to Him with all our heart. Experience of reconciliation with God, “allows us to discover the need for other forms of reconciliation: in families, in relationships, in the ecclesial communities, as well as in social and international relations. Someone told me a few days ago, that there are more enemies than friends in the world,” Francis said, “and I think he was right. But no, we must build bridges of reconciliation even among us, beginning in our own family. How many siblings have quarrelled and become distant over even an inheritance. This will not do! This year is the year of reconciliation with God and with one another! In fact, reconciliation is a service to peace, the recognition of the fundamental rights of the people, solidarity and welcome for all. Let us accept, therefore, the invitation to be reconciled to God to become new creatures and to be able to radiate His mercy among our brothers and sisters.”
During his concluding remarks he encouraged families and all present saying “In your families and in the various sectors in which you operate, be instruments of reconciliation, be peace builders and sowers of peace. Indeed, your task is not only to prevent, manage or put an end to conflicts but also to help build an order based on truth, justice, love and freedom, according to the definition of peace St. John XXIII gives in the Pacem in Terris encyclical. Achieving peace is not easy, especially because of war, which makes people’s hearts barren, fostering violence and hatred. I urge you not to be discouraged. Continue along the path of faith and open your hearts to God the merciful Father who never tires of forgiving us. In the face of today’s challenges, let Christian hope shine bright for it is proof of the victory of love over hatred and peace over war.”