Hear confessions every time when asked, pope says
Pope Francis tells confessors sacrament of reconciliation is an opportunity to evangelize
Pope Francis kneels before a priest to confess during the Liturgy of Penance on March 17 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. (Photo by AFP)
Hear confession every time someone asks, Pope Francis said, and don't ever put limited hours on the sacrament of reconciliation.
"Please, let there never be those signs that say, 'Confessions: Mondays and Wednesdays from this time to that time,'" he told hundreds of confessors and other participants attending an annual course sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that handles issues related to the absolution of sin.
"Hear confession every time someone asks you. And if you are sitting there, praying, leave the confessional open because God's heart is open," Catholic News Service reported the pope as saying on March 17.
Confession "is a pastoral priority," and is a daily call to head to the "peripheries of evil and sin, and this is an ugly periphery," he said.
So much harm is done to the church and human souls when a confessor is not guided by prayer and the Holy Spirit in discerning what God wants to be done, he said.
"The confessor never follows his own will and doesn't teach his own doctrine," but is called to be God's servant in full communion with the church.
Be ready to use confession as an opportunity to evangelize and remind people of the basic, essential truth of faith and morality, he said.
Pope Francis also asked confessors to be very careful in discerning whether a person may be suffering from a mental disorder, "which must be verified through a healthy cooperation with" experts, or from demonic influence or possession.
Whenever a confessor recognizes the presence of evil spirits, he said, never hesitate to refer to an exorcist, who is charged with "this sensitive and necessary ministry" in each diocese.
Source: Catholic News Service
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