VATICAN CITY, APR. 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II heard confessions in St. Peter´s Basilica today, as he does every year on Good Friday, before leading the Stations of the Cross in Rome´s Colosseum.
Shortly after midday, the Holy Father came to Christianity´s largest church, and pilgrims burst into applause. He made his way to a confessional and, as would a parish priest, heard the confessions of pilgrims from different parts of the world, who spoke Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish.
John Paul II began this custom in 1979, which allows him to emphasize the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation in the life of the Church.
In his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2001, the Bishop of Rome said that one of the most important fruits of the Jubilee was to witness how many people have returned to the sacrament of confession.
“It would be naive to think that the mere intensifying of the practice of the sacrament of forgiveness during the Jubilee Year is proof of a definitive turnabout,” John Paul II wrote. “Nevertheless, it was an encouraging sign.”
“It impels us,” he added, “to recognize that the profound needs of the human spirit, to which God´s saving plan responds, cannot be canceled out by temporary crises. We should accept this Jubilee indication as a sign from on high, and make it a reason for renewed boldness in re-proposing the meaning and practice of this sacrament.”