Universal Prayer: Confession of Sins and Asking for Forgiveness

Author: Pope John Paul II

The Celebration of the Great Jubilee


12 March 2000

After preaching the homily at the Mass he celebrated on 12 March, the "Day of Pardon" ..., the Holy Father led the Prayer of the Faithful, in which he made a confession of sins and the request for pardon. The Pope introduced the rite, each part of which consisted of an invitatory read by a representative of the Roman Curia, followed by a moment of silence, a prayer by the Holy Father, the chanting of a triple Kyrie eleison and the lighting of a candle. After the concluding prayer, the Pope embraced and kissed the crucifix as a sign of veneration and the imploring of pardon. Here is a translation of the prayers, which were offered in Italian. 


The Holy Father:

Brothers and Sisters, 
let us turn with trust to God our Father, 
who is merciful and compassionate, 
slow to anger, great in love and fidelity, 
and ask him to accept the repentance of his people 
who humbly confess their sins, 
and to grant them mercy.

I. Confession of Sins in General

Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Dean of the College of Cardinals:

Let us pray that our confession and repentance 
will be inspired by the Holy Spirit, 
that our sorrow will be conscious and deep, 
and that, humbly viewing the sins of the past 
in an authentic "purification of memory", 
we will be committed to the path of true conversion.

The Holy Father:

Lord God, 
your pilgrim Church, 
which you ever sanctify in the blood of your Son, 
counts among her children in every age 
members whose holiness shines brightly forth 
and members whose disobedience to you 
contradicts the faith we profess 
and the Holy Gospel. 
You, who remain ever faithful, 
even when we are unfaithful, 
forgive our sins 
and grant that we may bear true witness to you 
before all men and women. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

II. Confession of Sins Committed in the Service of Truth

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

Let us pray that each one of us, 
looking to the Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, 
will recognize that even men of the Church, 
in the name of faith and morals, 
have sometimes used methods not in keeping with the Gospel 
in the solemn duty of defending the truth.

The Holy Father:

Lord, God of all men and women, 
in certain periods of history 
Christians have at times given in to intolerance 
and have not been faithful to the great commandment of love, 
sullying in this way the face of the Church, your Spouse. 
Have mercy on your sinful children 
and accept our resolve 
to seek and promote truth in the gentleness of charity, 
in the firm knowledge that truth 
can prevail only in virtue of truth itself. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

III. Confession of Sins Which Have Harmed the Unity of the Body of Christ

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000:

Let us pray that our recognition of the sins 
which have rent the unity of the Body of Christ 
and wounded fraternal charity 
will facilitate the way to reconciliation 
and communion among all Christians.

The Holy Father:

Merciful Father, 
on the night before his Passion 
your Son prayed for the unity of those 
who believe in him: 
in disobedience to his will, however, 
believers have opposed one another, 
becoming divided, 
and have mutually condemned one another 
and fought against one another. 
We urgently implore your forgiveness 
and we beseech the gift of a repentant heart, 
so that all Christians, reconciled with you 
and with one another, 
will be able, in one body and in one spirit, 
to experience anew the joy of full communion. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

IV. Confession of Sins Against the People of Israel 

Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:

Let us pray that, in recalling the sufferings 
endured by the people of Israel throughout history, 
Christians will acknowledge the sins 
committed by not a few of their number 
against the people of the Covenant and the blessings, 
and in this way will purify their hearts.

The Holy Father:

God of our fathers, 
you chose Abraham and his descendants 
to bring your Name to the nations: 
we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those 
who in the course of history 
have caused these children of yours to suffer, 
and asking your forgiveness we wish 
to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood 
with the people of the Covenant. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

V. Confession of Sins Committed in Actions Against Love, Peace, the Rights of Peoples, and Respect for Cultures and Religions 

Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People:

Let us pray that contemplating Jesus, 
our Lord and our Peace, 
Christians will be able to repent 
of the words and attitudes 
caused by pride, by hatred, 
by the desire to dominate others, 
by enmity towards members of other religions 
and towards the weakest groups in society, 
such as immigrants and itinerants.

The Holy Father:

Lord of the world, Father of all, 
through your Son 
you asked us to love our enemies, 
to do good to those who hate us 
and to pray for those who persecute us. 
Yet Christians have often denied the Gospel; 
yielding to a mentality of power, 
they have violated the rights 
of ethnic groups and peoples, 
and shown contempt for their cultures 
and religious traditions: 
be patient and merciful towards us, 
and grant us your forgiveness! 
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

VI. Confession of Sins Against the Dignity of Women and the Unity of the Human Race

Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue::

Let us pray for all those who have suffered offences 
against their human dignity and whose rights 
have been trampled; 
let us pray for women, who are all too often 
humiliated and emarginated, 
and let us acknowledge the forms of acquiescence 
in these sins of which Christians too have been guilty.

The Holy Father:

Lord God, our Father, 
you created the human being, man and woman, 
in your image and likeness 
and you willed the diversity of peoples 
within the unity of the human family. 
At times, however, the equality of your sons 
and daughters has not been acknowledged, 
and Christians have been guilty of attitudes 
of rejection and exclusion, 
consenting to acts of discrimination 
on the basis of racial and ethnic differences. 
Forgive us and grant us the grace 
to heal the wounds 
still present in your community on account of sin, 
so that we will all feel ourselves to be your sons and daughters. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

VII. Confession of Sins in Relation to the Fundamental Rights of the Person

Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:

Let us pray for all the men and women of the world, 
especially for minors who are victims of abuse, 
for the poor, the alienated, the disadvantaged; 
let us pray for those who are most defenceless, 
the unborn killed in their mother’s womb 
or even exploited for experimental purposes 
by those who abuse the promise of biotechnology 
and distort the aims of science.

The Holy Father:

God, our Father, 
you always hear the cry of the poor. 
How many times have Christians themselves 
not recognized you in the hungry, the thirsty and the naked, 
in the persecuted, the imprisoned, 
and in those incapable of defending themselves, 
especially in the first stages of life. 
For all those who have committed acts of injustice 
by trusting in wealth and power 
and showing contempt for the "little ones" 
who are so dear to you, we ask your forgiveness: 
have mercy on us and accept our repentance. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Concluding Prayer

The Holy Father:

Most merciful Father, 
your Son, Jesus Christ, the judge of the living 
and the dead, 
in the humility of his first coming 
redeemed humanity from sin 
and in his glorious return he will demand 
an account of every sin. 
Grant that our forebears, our brothers and sisters, 
and we, your servants, who by the grace 
of the Holy Spirit 
turn back to you in whole-hearted repentance, 
may experience your mercy and receive 
the forgiveness of our sins. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
22 March 2000, page 4

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