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Confession should help both priest and penitents, Pope says

Catholic World News - March 25, 2011

The rite of Confession can be a learning experience for both priests and penitents, Pope Benedict XVI said on March 25.

Addressing an annual Vatican conference on the "internal forum," the Pope observed that for penitents, the sacrament can be a rare occasion, in a busy world, "for truly being listened to and heard in the depths of one's being." Confession, he said, "helps penitents to be humble, to recognize their own fragility and, at the same time, to achieve an awareness of the need for God's forgiveness and the belief that divine Grace can transform life."

For priests, the Pope said, the pastoral work of hearing confessions provides "a unique observation point from which we are daily granted the privilege of contemplating the splendour of divine mercy." He said that administration of the sacrament should strengthen the priestly identity of the confessor, who must be aware that he could never hear confessions and absolve sins "merely on the strength of our own humanity," but functions in persona Christi.

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