Pope: I Stole Cross From My Confessor's Casket

...while arranging roses in the man's casket
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2014 12:29 PM CST
Pope: I Stole Cross From My Confessor's Casket
Pope Francis celebrates the Ash Wednesday mass at the Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool)

Pope Francis, superpope with sticky fingers? The pontiff today admitted that he took the cross of his late confessor's rosary from the man's casket and wears it daily in a fabric pouch under his cassock. "And whenever a bad thought comes to mind about someone, my hand goes here, always," he said, gesturing to his heart. "And I feel the grace, and that makes me feel better." Francis made the revelation during an informal meeting with Roman priests. He explained the man was known as the "great confessor" in Buenos Aires, as he heard confessions from most of his priests as well as from Pope John Paul II when he visited Argentina.

When the priest died, Francis went to pray by his open casket and noticed it was devoid of flowers, which he found a stunning omission. So he bought a bouquet of roses. Upon return, "I saw the rosary he had in his hand and immediately there came to mind the thief we all have inside ourselves and while I arranged the flowers I took the cross." As per NBC, he continued, "And in that moment I looked at him and I said 'Give me half your mercy.'" No word on who he confessed the theft to. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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