Who Listens To The Pope's Confession?

Confession is one of the most important sacraments in the Catholic faith. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a way for the faithful to be absolved of their sins through examining their conscience, confessing their sins to a priest, and asking for forgiveness. The priest will often assign a type of penance at the end of the confession, usually in the form of prayer, fasting, or acts of service, "as medicine to begin to repair the damage caused by sin," according to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Catholics confess not just their mortal sins, which are grave wrongdoings that violate the Ten Commandments, but also should confess their venial sins, which are less serious faults one might be guilty of committing during their everyday life, per the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Therefore, all practicing Catholics are supposed to attend confession a minimum of one time per year, according to the church's Code of Canon Law, which states: "After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year," via Catholic Philly. However, it is recommended that Catholics should aim to attend much more frequently, with a regular confession of about once a month being a commendable practice, per the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The Pope has his own Papal Confessor

All Catholics in the world are expected to attend confession, and that includes the most famous Catholic of all: The pope himself. Yes, even Pope Francis isn't exempt from attending regular confession, nor were any of his predecessors. Popes, deacons, bishops, and all other members of the Catholic Church Hierarchy, no matter how high-ranking they may be, still have to confess their sins to a priest. But who bears the sacred responsibility of hearing the pope's confession?

The short answer is, it can be any ordained priest the pope chooses. Any Catholic priest can hear the sins of The Supreme Pontiff, and in fact, the current pope has even been known to give his confessions to different priests at papal events, according to Catholic.com. But while any priest is capable of hearing his sins, the Pope does select his own "papal confessor," to whom he regularly confesses. Pope Francis himself has said he attends confession every two weeks. "Priests, too, need confession, even bishops. We are all sinners. Even the pope goes to confession every two weeks because the pope, too, is a sinner. My confessor hears what I say, offers me advice, and forgives me. We all need this," Pope Francis said of the sacrament in 2013 (via The Arlington Catholic Herald).