Continuing to display humility and leadership by example, Pope Francis went to confession before a regular and ordinary priest, much to the shock of the congregation present in St. Peter's Basilica over the weekend.
Pope Francis' cordon sanitaire might be already used to him breaking protocol since he assumed the post as top spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church on March 2013. But his escorts and people working for him still find it surprising every time he does break tradition.
Pope Francis on Friday led a penitential liturgy at St. Peter's Basilica. After reading a sermon at the service, he will take his place at a confessional box to hear people's confessions.
As Msgr Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, showed him which confessional box he would be using, Pope Francis stalled and pointed to another confessional nearby. Not because he wanted to be seated there but that he himself wanted to go to confession first.
Without fanfare, the pope walked to the confessional box and knelt before a priest before a very shocked public. He confessed his sins for the whole world to see.
"Francis confessed his sins with his back to the camera, so it was not possible to read lips or hear what he said," the AP said. "At one point, the priest hearing his confession appeared to chuckle."
"Francis, solemn-faced, then rose and started hearing confessions himself."
Pope Francis' confessional display seemed to concretize his earlier sermon in which he stressed the importance of confession in the Catholic faith.
"Who can say he is not a sinner? Nobody. We all are," the pope, dressed in a simple white alb and purple stole, told the thousands present at the penitential liturgy rites.
The priest spent about three minutes hearing the pope mention his sins and then gave him the necessary absolution. Surely shocked to his core, but the priest still managed to clasp the pope's hands and kiss his simple silver ring, in what seemed a testament that he fully knows the individual penitent who knelt before was the Holy Father of the Catholic church.
The pope plus 61 other priests then moved into the confessional boxes or to the chairs placed against the walls to perform the confession rites to individual penitents.