Vatican, Mar. 30, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI led a penance service for young people in St. Peter's basilica on Thursday evening, March 29. The Pope concluded his appearance by joining 55 priests in hearing confessions.
The Holy Father emphasized the sacrament of Penance in his talk to the young people, who were preparing for the 22nd observance of World Youth Day on Sunday. Speaking about the love that Christ pours out from the Cross, the Pope said that it is "the Spirit of love by which, this evening too, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace granted."
The Pope reminded his youthful audience that "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." For Christians who have fallen away, the Church offers, through Confession, "peace and serenity of conscience and the consolation of the spirit; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian struggle."
The Pope challenged his listeners to build upon the grace they received in the evening's penitential service, and bring others closer to Christ. "Be prepared to bear a truly Christian witness," he urged them.
After his remarks the Pope donned a purple stole and entered a confessional to administer the sacrament. He joined 55 other priests who were hearing confessions in the Vatican basilica for the special service.