UPDATE: I added my rapid translation of the Holy Father’s sermon at the penance service, below.
CTV had a live broadcast from the Basilica of St. Peter during a penance service for young people.
It was pretty much a standard Form II ceremony.
The Holy Father heard confessions.
Various stations were set up around the basilica, in addition to the regular confessionals.
The period for confessions was punctuated by spiritual readings and the singing of the usual goopy Italian churchy stuff by Marco Frisina (below). It was enough to make you despair of salvation, had there not been so many confessors around.
The Holy Father eventually got out of the confessional.
Put on his cope and went to his chair.
After a couple prayers …
…and a blessing, people went home… shriven.
A bonus is to see His Holiness with Pope Pius XII’s coat of arms. [CORRECTION: Innocent X!]
UPDATE: Here is the Holy Father’s sermon, in my rapid translation:
Also this year, near to Palm Sunday, we meet again to prepare for the celebration of the 23rd World Youth Day which, as you know, will culminate in the Meeting of young people from the whole world to take place at Sydney next 15-20 July. You have known the theme for this Day for a while now. It is taken from the words heard just a bit ago in the first reading: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1,8). Today’s gathering takes on, and not by chance, the form of a penitential liturgy, with the celebration of individual confessions.
Why "not by chance"? The response can be dervived from what I wrote in my first encyclical. There I put into relief that at the beginning of being Christ, there is an encounter with an event, with a Person, who gives a new horizon to life and with it a decisive direction (cf. Deus caritas est, 1). Precisely to favor this encounter you are readying yourselves to open your hearts to God, confession your sins and receiving, through the action of the Holy Spirit and through the mediation of the Church, forgiveness and peace. This is how one makes room for the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, who is the "soul" (anima) and "vital breath" (respiro vitale) of Christian life: the Spirit makes us capable of bringing to maturity an ever deeper and joyful understanding of Jesus and, at the same time, to achieve putting the Gospel into effect (Messaggio per la XXIII GMG, 1).
When I was Archbishop of Munich-Freising, in a meditation on Pentecost I was inspired by a film entitled Seelenwanderung (Metempsychosis), to explain what the action is of the Holy Spirit in the soul. The film presents two poor devils who, because of their goodness, weren’t able to get ahead in life. One day one of them got the idea that, not having anything else to sell, he could sell his soul. This was bought at a cheap price and put into a box. From that moment, to his great surprise, everything changed in his life. The began a rapid rise in the world, he became ever richer, he attained great honors, and at his death he was even Consul, largely because of his money and property. From the moment when he was freed from his soul, he no longer had any consideration or humanity. He acted without scruples, aiming only at gain and success. Man no longer counted for anything. He himself no longer had a soul. The film, as I concluded, show in an impressive way how behind the facade of success, there is often hidden an empty existence.
On the surface, the man hadn’t lost anything, but he lacked a soul, and without it, lacked everything. It is obvious, as I continued in that reflection, that a human being can’t literally throw away his own soul, from the moment that it makes him into a person. In fact, he still remains a person. And still there is the frightening possibility of being inhuman, to remain a person selling and losing at the same time one’s own humanity. The distance between the human person and the inhuman person is immense, even if your can’t demonstrate it; it is that thing which is really essential, even though it is, on the surface, without importance (cf.Suchen, was droben ist. Meditationem das Jahr hindurch, LEV, 1985).
Even the Holy Spirit, who was at the beginning of creation and thanks to the Paschal Mystery descended abundantly on Mary and the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, offers no evidence to physical eyes. If It penetrates into the person, or not, you can’t see it of demonstrate it; but it changes and renews the whole outlook of human existence. The Holy Spirit does not change the exterior situations of life, but rather the interior. On the evening of Easter Jesus, appearing to the disciples, "breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20,22). In a way even more evident, the Spirit descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, like a roaring wind and in the form of tongues of fire. This night also the Spirit descends upon our hearts, to forgive sins and renew them interiorly, clothing them with a power will make us also, like the Apostles, bold in announcing that "Christ was dead and is risen!"
Dear friends, let us therefore prepare ourselves, with a sincere examination of conscience, to present ourselves before those to whom Christ entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. With a contrite spirit let us confess our sins, seriously proposing not to repeat them any more. This is how we will experience the joy that is true: which comes from the mercy of God, flows into our hearts and reconciles us with Him. This joy is contagious! "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you", as the bible verse chosen as the theme of the 23rd World Youth Day says, "and you shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). Make yourselves bearers of this joy which comes from welcoming the gifts of the Holy Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
Remember that you are "temples of the Spirit"; allow Him to abide in you and obey His directions docilely, to bring forward your contribution to the building up of the Church (cf. 1 Cor 12:7) and discern to what sort of vocation the Lord is calling you. Today also the world has need of priests, of consecrated men and women, of married Christian couples. Be generous in responding to a vocation through one of these ways, and help yourselves through recourse to the sacrament of confession and to the practice of spiritual direction in your journey as Christians of consistent character. (cristiani coerenti) Seek especially to open your heart sincerely to Jesus, the Lord, to offer Him your unconditional "yes".
Dear young people, this city of Rome is in your hands. Yours is the task to make it beautiful also spiritually with your witness of life lived in the grace of God and in keeping far away from sin, sticking to everything the Holy Spirit calls you to be in the Church and the world. In this way you will make visible the superabundant grace of the mercy of Christ, which gushed from His side, pierced for us on the Cross. The Lord Jesus washes us of our sins, heals us of wrongs and strengthens us not to succumb in the struggle against sin and in the witness of His love.
Twenty-five years ago, our beloved Servant of God John Paul II inaugurated, not far from this Basilica, the San Lorenzo International Youth Center: a spiritual initiative which was united to many others present in the Diocese of Rome, to aid welcoming young people, the exchange of experiences and the witness of faith, and above all the prayer which helps us discover the love of God. In that occasion John Paul II said: "Whoever allows himself to be filled up with this love – the love of God – cannot deny his own guilt for very long. The loss of the sense of sin derives in the final analysis from the even more radical loss of the sense of God" (Omelia per l’inaugurazione del Centro Internazionale Giovanile "San Lorenzo", 13 marzo 1983, 5). And he added: "Where to go in this world, with sin and with guilt, without the Cross? The Cross takes upon Itself all the misery of the world, which comes from sin. It is revealed as the sign of grace. It accepts our solidarity and encourages us to sacrifice for others" (ibid.).
Dear young people, this experience is renewed today for you: look at the Cross, welcome the love of God which is given by the Holy Spirit, and, as Pope John Paul II said, "Become you yourselves, redeemers of the youth of the world"(ibid.).
Divine Heart of Jesus, whence Blood and water flowed forth like the wellspring of mercy for us, we trust in Thee. Amen!