Full house at the home of mercy

World Youth Day pilgrim goes to confession at park in Rio de Janeiro

A pilgrim at confession at Boa Vista Park in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

VATICAN CITY — There’s been lots of anecdotal evidence of a boom in people going to confession because of what Pope Francis has been saying about it:

  • It’s not a psychiatric session that neglects the question of sin or a mental email to God that avoids the face-to-face encounter with the Lord through the priest.
Priest hears a confession during diocesan-wide Day of Penance at New York church

Father Dennis Noelke hears a confession at Christ the King Church in Irondequoit, N.Y., during the diocese’s Day of Penance in March. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

It’s an encounter with Jesus whose “mercy motivates us to do better,” the pope has said.

“God is happy when he gives us his mercy,” and it’s that invitation to not be afraid to ask for God’s forgiveness that is fueling the boom, said the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that deals with the sacrament of penance.

Msgr. Krzysztof Nykie told Vatican Radio today that the four papal basilicas and churches around the Vatican are “full of people who are asking for confession and for dedicating time for prayer,” particularly on a Wednesday general audience day and the day of the Sunday Angelus.


A priest hearing confession during a penance service led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica March 13, 2008. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“They are coming to confession with greater confidence and a sincere spirit of repentance,” he said.

The pope has been emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation because “God’s mercy is at the heart of the Gospel message,” the monsignor said.

“Jesus came to save those who are lost,” and the pope wants all men and women to know that conversion and salvation are always possible at any time in life.

He said he hoped more and more people would see the confessional as a unique place “to experience God’s love as greater than any sin.”

It’s the same message the officials at the Apostolic Penitentiary have been giving for a while, as can be seen in this CNS story right before Pope Francis’ March 13 election.  Now it’s a message more people seem to be hearing.