CNS PHOTO | FELIX ORDONEZ,REUTERS
A priest hears Confession from a man in 2011 in Burgos, Spain, illustrating Pope Benedict's call that Confession can help Catholics build lives filled with hope and holiness.
VATICAN CITY - Confession can help Catholics build lives filled with hope and holiness, which are needed for effective evangelization, Pope Benedict said.
"New evangelization, therefore, also starts from the confessional," he told confessors and other participants attending a course sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary.
The penitentiary is a Vatican court that handles issues related to the absolution of sin.
New evangelization "draws its life blood from the holiness of the children of the Church, from the daily journey of personal and communal conversion to adhere ever more deeply to Christ, he said in his address March 9.
There is a strong link between holiness and the sacrament of Reconciliation, he said.
The true conversion of a person's heart that has opened itself to God's transformative power of renewal "is the driving force of every reform and it translates into a true evangelizing force."
The sacrament of Reconciliation reminds people of God's limitless capacity to "transform, illuminate all the dark corners and continually open up new horizons," he said.
Through Confession and God's mercy, the repentant sinner becomes a new person who is "justified, pardoned and sanctified," who can become a grace-filled and more authentic witness to God's love, he said.
"Only he who lets himself be deeply renewed by divine grace can carry in himself, and therefore proclaim, the Gospel news," he said.
"Thus each Confession, from which each Christian will emerge renewed, will represent a step forward for new evangelization," he said.
The pope said an "educational emergency" exists in today's world because relativism has eradicated any sense that people can gradually come to know the truth and experience the truth of God.
"Christians are called to proclaim with vigour the possibility of an encounter between people of today and Jesus Christ."
God became human precisely to be able to be close to all people so that they could see and hear him, he said. That is why the sacrament of Reconciliation helps a person open his or her heart and let God in, said the pope.