Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, said sinners should not be afraid of the Sacrament of Confession because in the confessional “the joy of forgiving and the joy of being forgiven are united.” The Apostolic Penitentiary is the tribunal of the Roman Curia that deals with the internal forum — matters of Confession and spiritual direction — and with indulgences. Cardinal Piacenza told Vatican Radio that the Sacrament of Confession is also a grace for the priest who absolves sins. “It is a great gift also for us priests who, while called to exercise this ministry, have our faults to correct, so we are penitents and confessors at the same time.” “It is more important than ever that confessors know how to welcome the penitent,” Cardinal Piacenza continued, emphasizing that priests need to sit in the confessional at times that are convenient for the faithful. The Penitentiary is currently holding a weeklong course in the Palace of the Chancery in Rome for nearly 500 priests and seminarians — the 25th annual instance of the course. The meeting will conclude Friday with an audience with Pope Francis. In the afternoon there will be a penitential liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica, when the Pope will hear confessions and inaugurate the “feast of forgiveness,” during which parishes will stay open 24 hours for confessions. According to Cardinal Piacenza, confessors need to develop their spiritual and pastoral sensitivity with serious theological, moral, and pedagogical preparation so they can understand the experience of the penitent. “They need to know where the penitent lives, the society that surrounds him, the family context. All of that should not only be part of the initial, but also the permanent, formation of the clergy.” Cardinal Piacenza said Confession should be clear, simple, and complete, and include sincere repentance for true conversion: “In this way our existence is oriented again toward the path of love for God and for neighbour.” The value of Confession lies in the grace of forgiveness that reaches the roots of sin committed after Baptism and that heals imperfections and deviations, giving the believer the strength for a real conversion. “It is always a joyful celebration of the love of God who gives himself destroying our sin when we willing to recognized it with humility,” the cardinal said.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.