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I Confess One Baptism for the Forgiveness of Sins

Catechesis by Pope Francis
General Audience, Wednesday 13 November 2013, St Peter's Square - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In the Creed, through which we make our Profession of Faith every Sunday, we state: “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins”. It is the only explicit reference to a Sacrament contained in the Creed. Indeed, Baptism is the “door” of faith and of Christian life. The Risen Jesus left the Apostles with this charge: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:15-16). The Church’s mission is to evangelize and remit sins through the Sacrament of Baptism. But let us return to the words of the Creed. The expression can be divided into three points: “I confess”; “one Baptism”; “for the remission of sins”.

1. “I profess”. What does this mean? It is a solemn term that indicates the great importance of the object, that is, of Baptism. In fact, by pronouncing these words we affirm our true identity as children of God. Baptism is in a certain sense the identity card of the Christian, his birth certificate, and the act of his birth into the Church. All of you know the day on which you were born and you celebrate it as your birthday, don’t you? We all celebrate our birthday. I ask you a question, that I have already asked several times, but I’ll ask it again: who among you remembers the date of your Baptism? Raise your hands: they are few (and I am not asking the Bishops so as not to embarrass them...). Let’s do something: today, when you go home, find out what day you were baptized, look for it, because this is your second birthday. The first birthday is the day you came into life and the second birthday is the one on which you came into the Church. Will you do this? This is your homework: find out the day on which you were born to the Church, and give thanks to the Lord, because at Baptism he has opened the door of his Church to us. At the same time, Baptism is tied to our faith in the remission of sins. The Sacrament of Penance or Confession is, in fact, like a “second baptism” that refers back always to the first to strengthen and renew it. In this sense, the day of our Baptism is the point of departure for this most beautiful journey, a journey towards God that lasts a lifetime, a journey of conversion that is continually sustained by the Sacrament of Penance. Think about this: when we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we go to ask the pardon of Jesus, but we also go to renew our Baptism through his forgiveness. And this is beautiful, it is like celebrating the day of Baptism in every Confession. Therefore, Confession is not a matter of sitting down in a torture chamber, rather it is a celebration. Confession is for the baptized! To keep clean the white garment of our Christian dignity!

2. The second element: “one Baptism”. This expression refers to that of St Paul: “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism” (Eph 4:5). The word “Baptism” literally means “immersion”, and in fact this Sacrament constitutes a true spiritual immersion in the death of Christ, from which one rises with Him like a new creation (cf. Rom 6:4). It is the washing of regeneration and of illumination. Regeneration because it actuates that birth by water and the Spirit without which no one may enter the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Jn 3:5). Illumination because through Baptism the human person becomes filled with the grace of Christ, “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9) and dispels the shadows of sin. That is why in the ceremony of Baptism the parents are given a lit candle, to signify this illumination; Baptism illuminates us from within with the light of Jesus. In virtue of this gift the baptized are called to become themselves “light” — the light of the faith they have received — for their brothers, especially for those who are in darkness and see no glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives.

We can ask ourselves: is Baptism, for me, a fact of the past, relegated to a date, that date which you are going to go look for today, or is it a living reality, that pertains to my present, to every moment? Do you feel strong, with the strength that Christ gave you by his death and his Resurrection? Or do you feel low, without strength? Baptism gives strength and it gives light. Do you feel enlightened, with that light that comes from Christ? Are you a man or woman of light? Or are you a dark person, without the light of Jesus? We need to take the grace of Baptism, which is a gift, and become a light for all people!

3. Lastly, a brief mention of the third element: “for the remission of sins”. In the Sacrament of Baptism all sins are remitted, original sin and all of our personal sins, as well as the suffering of sin. With Baptism the door to an effectively new life is opened, one which is not burdened by the weight of a negative past, but rather already feels the beauty and the goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the powerful intervention of God’s mercy in our lives, to save us. This saving intervention does not take away our human nature and its weakness — we are all weak and we are all sinners — and it does not take from us our responsibility to ask for forgiveness every time we err! I cannot be baptized many times, but I can go to Confession and by doing so renew the grace of Baptism. It is as though I were being baptized for a second time. The Lord Jesus is very very good and never tires of forgiving us. Even when the door that Baptism opens to us in order to enter the Church is a little closed, due to our weaknesses and our sins. Confession reopens it, precisely because it is a second Baptism that forgives us of everything and illuminates us to go forward with the light of the Lord. Let us go forward in this way, joyfully, because life should be lived with the joy of Jesus Christ; and this is a grace of the Lord."


"Je salue cordialement tous les francophones présents, en particulier les pèlerins venus de France et de Suisse, ainsi que les prêtres de la République démocratique du Congo. Comme acte de naissance du chrétien, le Baptême est le point de départ d’une marche de conversion. Durant toute votre vie, ne laissez personne voler votre identité chrétienne! Bon séjour à Rome!

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. May Jesus Christ confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and mercy to all people. God bless you all!

Sehr herzlich grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Der auferstandene Christus hat seiner Kirche die Sendung anvertraut, das Evangelium zu verkünden und die Sünden zu vergeben durch die Taufe. Danken wir dem Herrn für das große Geschenk des neuen Lebens in ihm, erneuern wir jeden Tag die Taufe, indem wir wirklich als Kinder Gottes leben, und seien wir stets bereit, im Sakrament der Beichte Gott um Vergebung und Hilfe zu bitten. Von Herzen segne ich euch und eure Lieben.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos venidos de España, Argentina, México, Venezuela, Guatemala y otros países latinoamericanos. Que vuestra presencia junto al sepulcro de los apóstoles Pedro y Pablo os ayude a redescubrir el don que Dios nos ha dado en el bautismo, y encontrar en él el impulso para un camino de conversión y renovación espiritual. Muchas gracias.

Dirijo uma cordial saudação aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente à Delegação de Moçambique e aos diversos grupos de fiéis brasileiros. Queridos amigos, convido-vos a tornar-vos “luz” para os irmãos, especialmente para aqueles que se encontram nas trevas e não vislumbram qualquer raio de luz no horizonte de sua vida. Que Deus vos abençoe!

Pozdrawiam obecnych tu Polaków. Moi drodzy, przyjmując sakrament chrztu, zostaliśmy oczyszczeni z każdego grzechu i dostąpiliśmy udziału w sprawiedliwości wcielonego Syna Bożego. Jesteśmy zaproszeni do życia w sprawiedliwości i otrzymujemy łaskę Ducha Świętego, abyśmy mogli odpowiedzieć na to zaproszenie. Jeśli jednak z powodu naszej słabości utracilibyśmy tę łaskę, mamy inne narzędzie oczyszczenia – sakrament pojednania. Przystępujmy do tego oczyszczającego źródła na drodze nawrócenia. Niech wam towarzyszy Boże błogosławieństwo!


"Brothers and Sisters, I learned with great sorrow that two days ago in Damascus mortar rounds killed several children returning home from school as well as the school bus driver. Other children were left wounded. Please, these tragedies must never happen, ever! Let us pray intensely! In these days we are praying and joining forces to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, struck by a typhoon. These are the true battles to fight. For life! Never for death!

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Un caloroso benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto i fedeli di Massa Marittima e Piombino con il Vescovo Mons. Ciattini, venuti in occasione dell’Anno della fede. Saluto con affetto i familiari delle vittime di Nassirya, accompagnati dall’Ordinario Militare per l’Italia Mons. Marcianò, a dieci anni dall’attentato terroristico in Iraq. Saluto inoltre l’Associazione Religiosa degli Istituti Socio-Sanitari, con il Vescovo Mons. Merisi, che ricorda il cinquantesimo anniversario di attività; l’Associazione Fra’ Umile Fidanza; il Gruppo Stanhome di Formello e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare i pellegrini di Orbetello con il Vescovo Mons. Borghetti.

Infine un pensiero affettuoso ai giovani, agli sposi novelli e ai malati, specialmente il Gruppo Malati Rari d’Italia con il Presidente del Pontificio Consiglio per gli Operatori Sanitari, Mons. Zimowski e il Gruppo Unione Ciechi di Vibo Valentia, con il Vescovo Mons. Renzo. In questi giorni di Novembre la liturgia fa memoria della dedicazione delle Basiliche di San Giovanni in Laterano, di San Pietro e di San Paolo. A tutti auguro che il pellegrinaggio a Roma possa rafforzare il legame con la Città degli Apostoli e la gioia dell’appartenenza alla Chiesa Cattolica."