The Pope expressed himself clearly on this matter when he met last weekend with members of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the fathers of Rome´s patriarchal basilicas. The occasion was the penitentiary´s annual course on the internal forum.
The Pontiff said that for the Christian, "Jesus is the only and necessary mediator of eternal salvation. From here stems the necessity of those means of grace, that are the sacraments instituted by Jesus, which are ordered to eternal salvation."
The Holy Father reminded his audience that "individual and integral confession and absolution are the only ordinary way for the faithful, who are conscious of grave sin, to be reconciled with God and the Church. Therefore, collective absolution, without prior individual accusation of sins, must be rigorously understood within restricted canonical norms."
He added: "The sacrament of reconciliation must not be confused with a psychotherapeutic technique. Psychological practices cannot replace the sacrament of penance, much less so be imposed in its place."