Vatican City, 9 February 2016 (VIS) – "Yours is a tradition of forgiving, of granting forgiveness", said Pope Francis to Friars Minor Capuchin from all over the world who participated in the Mass celebrated at the Altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica, on the occasion of the translation of the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Leopold Mandic.
"There are great confessors among you: it is because they consider themselves sinners … and before God's greatness then continually pray, 'Hear us, Lord, and forgive'. And because they know how to pray, they know how to forgive; on the contrary, when one forgets the need to ask forgiveness, slowly one forgets God. … The humble, he who considers himself a sinner, is a great forgiver in the confessional", remarked the Holy Father in his homily.
"I speak to you as a brother, and in you I would like to speak to all confessors, especially in this Year of Mercy: the confessional is for forgiveness. And if you cannot give absolution – let us make this assumption – please, do not punish. The person who comes to you does so in search of consolation, forgiveness, peace in his soul; to find a father who embraces him and says, 'God loves you', and who makes him feel this. And, although I am sorry to say this, but many people say, and I think the majority of us have heard this, 'I never go to confess because once they asked me these questions, and they did this...'. Please".
"But you Capuchins have this special gift of the Lord: forgiveness. I ask you: never tire of forgiving. …There are many languages in life: the language of words, and there are also languages of gestures. If a person comes to me, to the confessional, it is because he or she has a burden they want to remove. … If they come it is because they wish to change, to be another person, and they say so through the gesture of coming. It is not necessary to ask questions: 'But you...?'. If a person comes it is because in their soul they do not want to continue. But very often they are unable to stop, because they are conditioned by their psychology, their life, their situation".
The Holy Father concluded by emphasising that forgiveness is "a seed, a caress from God", and urged the Capuchins to trust in the Lord as they have the charism of confessors. "Renew this always", he said. "And be great forgivers, because those who do not know how to forgive end up … accusing. And who is the great accuser, in the Bible? The devil! Either do the work of Jesus, who forgave giving His life … or do the work of the devil who condemns and accuses. I don't know what else to say to you. In you I say to everyone, to all the priests who go to confess. And if they do not feel like doing so, may they be humble and say, 'No, no, I will celebrate Mass, clean the floor, I will do everything but not confess, because I don't know how to do it well'. And ask the Lord for the grace, the grace I ask for each one of you, for all of you, for all confessors, and for me too".