VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II has urged priests worldwide to help Christians rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and to start by frequenting it themselves.
The return of many Catholics – especially young people – to the practice of confession during the Jubilee Year was an “encouraging sign” upon which priests should build at the start of the new millennium, he said.
The Pope made his remarks in an annual letter to priests for Holy Thursday, commemorating Christ’s institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper.
The Pope thanked priests for their efforts, sometimes at great personal cost, to bring the experience of Christ’s salvation to those in their care.
One essential aspect of intensely experiencing Christ, the Pope said, is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which has suffered a decline in recent decades.
The Jubilee surge in confessions “impels us to recognise that the profound needs of the human spirit … cannot be cancelled out by temporary crises”, he said.