VATICAN CITY, MARCH 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reminded priests about their need to go to confession frequently and to be faithful to Church teaching when they administer the sacrament.
The Pope made this appeal today when he met with officials of the Apostolic Penitentiary, as well as with priests and seminarians who are attending an annual course on the so-called internal forum — matters of conscience relating to the sacrament of penance.
The Holy Father said the sacrament of the forgiveness of God “must be received from the priest above all with faith and humility, as well as with convinced frequency.”
“To the intrinsic value of the sacrament of penance must be added its ascetic efficacy as an occasion for self-examination and, therefore, as a verification, happy or painful, of one’s own level of fidelity to promises,” the Pope said.
“It is also an ineffable moment to experience the eternal charity that the Lord has for each one of us in our unrepeatable individuality,” he said. “It is an outlet for delusions and bitterness, inflicted on us perhaps unjustly. It is a consoling balm for the many forms of suffering that mark life.”
Moreover, in administering the sacrament, the priest must refer to “the genuine teachings of the Church […] without ideological variations,” the Holy Father stressed.
“I wish to call your attention to the duty to adhere to the magisterium of the Church concerning the complex problems that occur in the bioethical sphere, and concerning the moral and canonical norms in the sphere of marriage,” he said.
“It can happen that in the face of complex contemporary ethical problems the faithful leave the confessional with somewhat confused ideas, especially if they find that confessors are not consistent in their judgments,” the Pope continued.
“The truth is that those who fulfill this delicate ministry in the name of God and of the Church have a specific duty not to promote and, even more so, not to express in the confessional personal opinions that do not correspond to what the Church teaches and professes,” he said.
“Likewise,” the Pope added, “a failure to speak the truth because of a misconceived sense of compassion should not be taken for love.”