His works just keep getting better and better, as this story from Chiesa reports.
“He hears confession, he gives first communion, he teaches the children their catechism… The five innovations of the first Sunday spent by the pope in a parish of Rome.
“ROME, May 31, 2013 – The visit of Pope Francis, on Trinity Sunday, to the parish of Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah to the far north of the city, the first of a series of his visits to Roman parishes, immediately distinguished itself by several original characteristics.
“The pope arrived early in the morning, before the time announced, and the first thing he wanted to do was to meet one-on-one the children baptized in the past year, about fifty of them, together with their parents.
“Jorge Mario Bergoglio is highly sensitive about the baptism of children. On the previous day, in the morning homily at Saint Martha’s, he had cited the example of a teenage mother who had asked to have her child baptized and was refused. “The child is in no way at fault for the marital status of his parents” – this has been his principle since he was a bishop in Argentina – and in fact baptism “often becomes for the parents a new beginning.” Woe to those who set up a “pastoral customs agency” in front of this gate of entry into the Christian life: “So many times we are supervisors of the faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.”
“The second novelty of the visit took place shortly afterward. The pope entered the sacristy, closed the door, and before celebrating Mass he heard the confession, one after another, of eight parishioners chosen at random. There were supposed to have been five, but three were added unexpectedly. The reporter from “L’Osservatore Romano” wrote: “When that door opened there came out a radiant face, most of the time furrowed with tears.”
“Before him, John Paul II and Benedict XVI had heard confessions at St. Peter’s during Holy Week. Pope Joseph Ratzinger had also heard confessions at World Youth Day in Madrid, in 2011.
“Francis, however, wanted to hear confessions in the parish, right before Mass. He gave a good example to priests and faithful. He wanted to make visible the connection between confession and communion, which must be received only when one is “in the grace of God.”