S+L logo

Vatican Connections: Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014
For most North American Vatican-watchers, this week was supposed to be about the first meeting between Pope Francis and President Barack Obama. Once again, Pope Francis diverted people’s attention and forced a substitution of headlines.
The Diocese of Rome hosted a Penitential Service on Friday evening, during which Pope Francis was scheduled to hear confessions for about an hour. While making his way to his assigned confessional, he stopped, waved off the master of ceremonies and appeared to say “wait a minute”, then made a bee-line across the aisle to another confessional where a priest was already seated, patiently waiting for penitents. With his trademark certainty, Pope Francis knelt on the penitent’s kneeler and proceeded to confess himself.
Vatican officials have said this was not in the schedule and no one, not even the priest who heard the pope’s confession, had advance warning.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Pope Francis would take the opportunity to avail himself of the services of a good confessor. He has publicly stated he goes to confession every two weeks, he has repeatedly encouraged the faithful to “never tire of asking God for forgiveness,” and has urged priests to make the confession experience less like a torture chamber and more of a transformative experience.  
Even for committed Catholics the Sacrament of Reconciliation can seem about as appealing as going to the dentist for root canal. The image of the pope stepping sure-footedly up to the penitent’s kneeler, will undoubtedly go a long way to shaking up that attitude.
The image of the man in the white cassock kneeling in front of a confessor, also shakes up the general idea of what a leader looks like: someone who can get in trenches and do the very things he asks his followers to do.
The full text of Pope Francis’ homily at the penitential service can be read on Vatican Radio.  
Related posts
What’s behind the frame? When Pope Francis is photographed during a papal trip, it’s more than just a simple snapshot. Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wanted to know ...read more
In this episode of Vatican Connections we to talk about US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 24. Since then and only eight days after that historic visi ...read more
The Pontifical Swiss Guard is one of the smallest armies in the world, and one of the oldest still in operation. Its main responsibility is to protect the Pope and the Apostolic Palace. Although they ...read more
Find out what Pope Francis’ Trip to Egypt means
The Pope’s agenda this week includes his apostolic and symbolic visit to Egypt. Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, affirmed the Pope Francis’ will to send out a positive mess ...read more
Pope Francis Pens Letter in Response to New Shrine of St. Francis
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis sent a letter to the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Domenico Sorrentino, offering his blessings and support for his decision to establish a shrine in memo ...read more