MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI began his third day in Madrid by hearing confessions in one of 200 portable confessionals set up in a park for World Youth Day pilgrims.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope offered the sacrament of reconciliation to four World Youth Day volunteers: two young men and two young women. The pope heard the confessions of two in French, one in German and the confession of a Spaniard in Italian.
While the pope used one of the same portable white confessionals that all penitents and priests in the park used, a white screen was placed around his to increase privacy.
Organizers originally had said the pope would offer the sacrament to three young people.
“There was a fourth in case there was time,” Father Lombardi said. “They told the pope, ‘We have three young people, plus one in reserve,’ and the pope said, ‘What’s a reserve for confession?’”
“The pope wanted to give a sign of his personal participation for the importance of the sacrament of confession, which — as we know — in our day isn’t used as much as in previous eras.
“But the World Youth Days demonstrate its continuing relevance and the fact that when there is a clear, widespread and generous offer of the possibility for the sacrament of reconciliation, young Christians happily welcome it,” Father Lombardi said.