The Importance of Confessors
“I want to die and go to Heaven,” Francisco Marto, the young Fatima seer who could see Our Lady of Fatima but was unable to hear Her words at the Cova da Iria, replied when asked what career he would choose when he grew up. “Soon, Jesus will come to look for me and take me to Heaven with Him, and then I will be with Him always, to see Him and console Him. ... He is so sad because of so many sins.”
Shortly before his death, Francisco asked his sister, Jacinta, and his cousin, Lucy, to help him remember the sins he had committed, before he went to confession. He wanted to confess all his faults, without missing a single one.
Vatican Council II spoke of the importance of confession. However, following the council, secularization ensued and there was a confusion of terms.
On May 2, 2002, Archbishop Julián Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legal Texts, presented Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Misericordia Dei to the press.
The letter stresses personal and individual confession, an integral confession, which means the remission of all grave, but also venial, sins. It is, implicitly, a call to priests, who must always be available to hear the faithful’s confession. It is inconceivable that a priest is not available or has no time to hear confessions, because confession, together with the Eucharist, is the priest’s principal task.
In Ministers of Mercy, a pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Lima, Peru, Cardinal Cipriani writes, “Priests should make time to be available to hear confessions, and they approach the sacrament in humility.”
He appealed to priests to “dedicate time and energy to listen to the faithful’s confessions. They are happy to receive this sacrament when they know that the priests are available.
“The good confessor is aware that he is an active instrument of divine grace …”