.- In a message made public Saturday by the Vatican, the Pope expressed the urgency of the call to conversion and need to confess one’s sins. The message, dated March 8th and written from the Gemelli hospital, was addressed to Cardinal James F. Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, to his collaborators, to father confessors of Roman basilicas, and to numerous other priests.
It comes on the occasion of an annual course on the internal forum, organized by the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
John Paul wrote that, "We live in a society that often seems to have lost a sense of God and of sin. In this context, Christ's call to conversion becomes ever more urgent, a call that presupposes confession of one's own sins and the consequent request for forgiveness and salvation."
The Pope noted that, "in the tradition of the Church, sacramental reconciliation has always been considered in close connection with the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist, a remembrance of our redemption.”
In this year specially dedicated to the Eucharistic mystery, I consider it more than ever worthwhile to again call your attention to the vital relationship that exists between these two Sacraments."
"In the rite of Mass,” he continued, “many elements underline this need for purification and conversion: from the opening act of penance, to the prayers for forgiveness; from the sign of peace, to the prayers that priests and faithful recite prior to communion.”
Only people with a sincere awareness of not having committed mortal sin may receive the body of Christ."
The Pope called for the Eucharistic mystery to be celebrated "with pureness of heart and sincere love." He concluded, "Clearly and simply preach the true doctrine concerning the need of the Sacrament of reconciliation for receiving communion, when one is aware of not being in God's grace.”
At the same time, encourage the faithful to receive the body and blood of Christ in order to be purified of venial sins and imperfections, so that Eucharistic celebrations are pleasing to God and associate us with the offer of the holy and immaculate Victim with a heart that is contrite and humbled, confident and reconciled.”
Be assiduous ministers for all the faithful, willing and competent in the Sacrament of reconciliation, true images of the holy and merciful Christ."