"If you are not capable of talking to your brother about your mistakes, you can be sure that you can't talk about them with God, either, and therefore you end up confessing into the mirror, to yourself."
"It is important that I go to confession, that I sit in front of a priest who embodies Jesus, that I kneel before Mother Church, called to dispense the mercy of Christ," he said. "There is objectivity in this gesture of genuflection before the priest; it becomes the vehicle through which grace reaches and heals me."
Pope Francis said he is moved by the tradition in Eastern Churches, in which the priest the places his stole on the penitent's head, and puts his arm around his shoulder, describing it as "the physical representation of acceptance and mercy."
He explained how the faithful do not go to confession to be judged, but to encounter mercy.
"It's true that there is always a certain amount of judgment in confession, but there is something greater than judgment that comes into play," he said.
"It is being face-to-face with someone who acts in persona Christi to welcome and forgive you. It is an encounter with mercy."
Pope Francis was also asked about references he made to mercy early on in his pontificate, like the anecdote of the elderly woman who said that without God's mercy, "the world would not exist."
"It was an example of the faith of simple people who are imbued with knowledge even if they have never studied theology," he said.
"I was struck by that woman's words: without mercy, without God's forgiveness, the world would not exist; it couldn't exist."
"As a confessor, even when I have found myself before a locked door, I have always tried to find a crack, just a tiny opening so that I can pry open that door and grant forgiveness and mercy."
Tornielli also asked Pope Francis the significance of saying confession should not be like going to the "dry cleaner," a comparison which he has used more than once.
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"It was an example, an image to explain the hypocrisy of those who believe that sin is a stain, only a stain, something that you can have dry-cleaned so that everything goes back to normal," he said.
"But sin is more than a stain. Sin is a wound; it needs to be treated, healed."
In reference to another saying of his – that confessionals should not be torture chambers – Pope Francis said he is speaking directly to priests and confessors.
The Pope cited instances of priests in the confessional interrogating the penitent, or exhibiting excessive curiosity to the point of impropriety.
One the one hand, "Anyone who confesses does well to feel shame for his sins: shame is a grace we ask for; it is good, positive, because it makes us humble. But he added that "in a dialogue with a confessor we need to be listened to, not interrogated. Then the confessor says whatever he needs to and offers advice delicately."
Asked whether he himself was a "strict or indulgent confessor," Pope Francis answered saying he "always tried to take time with confessions," adding that he wished he could "walk into a church and sit down in a confessional again."