“Forgiveness changed that woman’s life,” he added.
More than 85% of Malta’s population of 478,000 people are baptized Catholics, but the country has seen a steady decline in Mass attendance for decades.
The Catholic Church enables its members to seek God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which a person confesses their sins to a priest and receives absolution.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.”
Pope Francis told Maltese Catholics: “The Lord also wants us, his disciples, his Church, likewise forgiven by him, to become tireless witnesses of reconciliation.”
God’s inexhaustible mercy and the importance of Christian witness have both been key themes of the pope’s weekend trip to Malta, which has brought him to a Marian shrine on the island of Gozo and the site where tradition holds that St. Paul stayed after landing on the island in 60 AD.
After the Mass, Pope Francis will meet with migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab, an immigration reception center in Hal Far, before he departs by plane on Air Malta on Sunday evening. He is expected to hold a press conference during the flight.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.