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Pope urges frequent confession in Holy Thursday letter to priests
    Pope John Paul II has urged priests to lead the faithful by example by going to confession more often.
    He said the return during the Jubilee year of many Catholics - especially young people - to the sacrament of penance is an 'encouraging sign' upon which priests should build.
    The Holy Father made his remarks in an annual letter to priests for Holy Thursday, commemorating Christ's institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood at the Last Supper.
    He said the Jubilee surge in confessions "impels us to recognise that the profound needs of the human spirit ... cannot be canceled out by temporary crises."
    The Pope explained the sacrament's decline in recent years as the result of a diminished sense of sin and an inadequate understanding of the sacraments in God's plan. But priests also shared some blame, he said, because of "a certain dwindling of our own enthusiasm and availability for the exercise of this delicate and demanding ministry."
4-Apr-01 The letter is published on the Vatican website.