The sacrament of penance in the Vatican

The sacrament of penance is among the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Through the process of the sacrament of penance, the faithful obtain divine mercy for the sins they have committed against God and neighbor and they are reconciled with the community of the Church. Through confession, Christians are freed from sins committed after baptism. It is through the sacrament of penance that Catholics believe that one gets washed off his sins which could otherwise condemn him to hell.

It is possible to have a priest hear your confession in the Vatican, In St. Peter's Basilica. Confession is available daily in different languages. If you want to Confess all you need to do is speak to the attendants and request a confession.

Catholics believe that it’s the mortal sins that turn man away from God and that they are a grave violation of the laws of God. Therefore anyone who realizes that has committed these sins should confess them in order to benefit from the sacrament. According to the Code of Canon Law, a priest is the minister of the sacrament of penance. However, this belief held by the Catholics has been greatly opposed by the Protestants who believe that it is only God who has powers to forgive one’s sins. But the Catholics also believe that it is not the priest that has the power to forgive sins, only God. However, they believe that through the absolution that the priest imparts God grants forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Church.

The way the sacrament of penance is administered has changed over centuries; at one time, confessions were done publicly. Mostly, the statement made by the penitents during the sacrament of penance remains confidential. The confidential strictness is known as the Seal of the Confessional. However, there are limited cases where part of the confession can be revealed to others, but this can only be done with the permission of the penitent and mostly without revealing the identity of the penitent.

The sacramental seal is of great importance and it has strict penalties upon anybody who reveals what was confessed in private; and therefore no one dare to reveal someone’s confession either by word of mouth, publishing or recording.

According to the Code of Canon Law, all Catholics who have attained the age of discretion are required to confess serious sins at least once a year, but frequent sacrament of penance is recommended. Mostly, the Catholics are required to have confessed before Easter so that they can receive the communion. Today, popes encourage faithful to confess more frequently stating that frequent confession is of great value; whether serious sins (mortal sins) or unserious sins (venial sins) are committed. When human beings sin, they go against God’s will and Catholics believe that through confession, the soul of the sinner is healed and he is regains the grace of God which was lost by sin. After confessing, the priest says the following words (words of absolution): “God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Sonhas reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Sacrament of penance is very important to the Catholic faithful and should be done as frequently as possible. If you wish to, you can confess in the Vatican at St. Peter's.