.- Receiving participants in an annual course on the internal forum and confidentiality within Sacramental Confession, promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary, at midday today, Pope Benedict XVI reemphasized the tremendous importance of the Sacrament of Penance.
"We all," said the Holy Father, "need to draw from the inexhaustible spring of divine love, which was made totally manifest to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find true peace with God, with ourselves and with our fellow man. Only from this spiritual spring is it possible to draw the interior energy indispensable for defeating evil and sin in the ceaseless struggle that marks our earthly pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland."
The Pope highlighted how in the modern world "we see a humanity that wishes for self sufficiency, where no small number of people almost feel they can do without God to live well; and yet, how many seem sadly condemned to face ... empty lives, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs upon the soul of man in the era of communication! In a word, it seems today that we have lost a 'sense of sin' ... but have increased our 'complex of guilt'."
"May priests, ministers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, always feel that their task is to make known the merciful love of God, both through words and in their approach to penitents. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, welcome penitent sinners, help them to arise from their sin and encourage them to make amends, never compromising with evil but resuming the journey towards evangelical perfection."
Priests, said the Holy Father, must be animated by a constant longing for sanctity. In order to carry out their "important mission," as confessors they "must remain faithful to the Church's Magisterium in matters of moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by situations, but by God."
The Holy Father concluded by calling upon the Virgin, Mother of Mercy, "to support the ministry of priest confessors and to help Christian communities to understand the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of all the faithful."