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Going to confession is not like a trip to dry cleaners, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis greets the crowd in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

Going to confession isn’t like heading off to be tortured, nor is it like going to the dry cleaners, said Pope Francis in a morning Mass homily.

The Pope was speaking during the Mass in the chapel of his current residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, which was attended by members of the Vatican’s investment agency, workers from the Vatican post office and staff from Vatican’s St Martha Dispensary, a maternal and pediatric clinic that serves mainly immigrants.

“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all,” he said, quoting from the First Letter of John. While everyone experiences moments of darkness in life, the verse refers to the darkness of living in error, “being satisfied with oneself, being convinced of not needing salvation,” he added.

Even though it is embarrassing to admit to and tell the truth about one’s thoughts and deeds, embarrassment or “shame is a true Christian and human virtue” linked to the traditional virtue of humility, explained Pope Francis.

“Humility and kindness are the framework of a Christian life. Oftentimes we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaners to get out a stain, but it isn’t. It’s an encounter with Jesus who waits for us to forgive us and offer salvation,” he said.

Pope Francis went on to says that confession is also not like “going to a torture session” where Jesus “is waiting to lambast me,” but “is going to praise God, because I, the sinner, have been saved by him who always forgives with tenderness.”

In his homily the Pope warned against the formation of “little groups” of self-righteous people whose hearts are closed “to the freshness of the Holy Spirit” and who “bargain with power” and try to solve problems alone.

He asked people to look at their own parish, church group or religious community and ask whether they are open to the Holy Spirit and open to spreading the word of God.