Pope Continues a Custom -- in the Confessional

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II heard the confessions of 11 pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, continuing a Good Friday custom he has observed since the start of his pontificate.

Just before midday, the Pope arrived in the basilica in a special chair, from which he imparted the sacrament of reconciliation, thanks to a special confessional that was prepared for the occasion.

For over an hour, the Holy Father heard the confessions of five men and six women -- two Spaniards, two Poles, two Italians, two Ukrainians, an American, a Canadian and a Slovak -- administering the sacrament in Spanish, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, English and Slovak.

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists who were in the basilica broke out in applause when they saw his white-clad figure.

Persons entering the basilica had to submit to metal control detectors, a security measure established given the possibility of terrorist attacks.