In a startling coincidence, every progressive Catholic media outlet and every mainstream Vatican correspondent was out sick today.
All of them. Down with the flu. On the same day.
How else to explain the complete and utter absence of any reporting by these sources on what Pope Francis said today during his general audience?
But maybe they aren’t really home in bed, wrapped in a blankey and surrounded by wadded up kleenex and old issues of People magazine. Maybe they’re fit as a fiddle, and they have a different, more purposeful, reason for ignoring what the Pope said. Maybe they realize that his words today don’t fit into their narrative of who they want him to be, and that frightens them.
Maybe they’re hoping that if they don’t cover it, the world won’t hear it.
So what scares them so much? What did Pope Francis say?
It’s a shame, because what the Pope said about Confession today was really quite beautiful, and I suspect that many of those who have been hoping that Francis would “lead the Church away from such things” would find it beautiful as well, if they allowed themselves to get past the headline and read what he said.
They might even be persuaded to re-think their dislike for the Sacrament and embrace it.
In his comments, the Pope reminds us that Confession comes straight from Jesus…
“The Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation [...] flow directly from the Paschal mystery…In fact, the same evening of Easter the Lord appeared to the disciples, closed in the Cenacle, and, after addressing to them the greeting ‘Peace be with you’, he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven.’”
…and that when we sin, it isn’t just between us and God…
“Someone may say: ‘I confess only to God.’ Yes, you can tell God: ‘Forgive me’, and say your sins,” he said. “But our sins are also against the brothers, against the Church, and for this it is necessary to ask forgiveness to the Church and to the brothers, in the person of the priest.”
…and that no matter how ashamed we feel, we shouldn’t be afraid…
“Do not be afraid of Confession! One who is in line to confess himself feels all these things – even shame – but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves free, great, beautiful, forgiven, [...] happy. And this is the beauty of Confession.”
The Pope concluded by encouraging those who had been away from Confession, whether for two weeks or 40 years, to return to the Sacrament:
“Jesus is there…and He receives you with so much love.”
Good advice for all of us.
And now of course I feel guilty for judging all those sick reporters.
I hope they get better soon.