(Crux) As Pope Francis was personally hearing confessions in the Vatican at the beginning of Lent, dioceses at his invitation were launching an ambitious initiative called â€œ24 Hours for the Lordâ€ to invite lapsed Catholics back to the Church and, in particular, to the sacrament of reconciliation.
Confession often goes hand in hand with the popeâ€™s musings on mercy, a virtue heâ€™s invoked to define his papacy. But will his high-profile endorsement revitalize interest in what some say is an endangered sacrament?
The popeâ€™s confession-obsession was on display in his recent book, the New York Times bestselling â€œThe Name of God is Mercy.â€ There, Francis expands on his now famous â€œWho am I to judge?â€ response in 2013 when asked about gay priests.
â€œI prefer that homosexuals come to confession,â€ he said, â€œthat they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together.â€
Last year, Francis raised eyebrows when he announced that women and others who take part in abortions â€“ which the Church considers a grave sin â€“ could be forgiven by any priest in the world, if they went to confession.
â€œI have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision,â€ Francis wrote in a letter, in which he went on to say â€œthe forgiveness of God cannot be denied.â€ [More]