Everyone's favorite tradition-breaking pontiff broke another tradition this past Friday during a Lenten service at St. Peter's Basilica.
Popes have traditionally heard confessions from laypeople every year on Good Friday. Pope Francis moved it up three weeks and did it in a very untraditional manner.
Clergy and faithful showed up to St. Peter's Basilica expecting to see Pope Francis hear confessions. The were surprised to see the pope go to confession himself.
In an unexpected and unprecedented moment, Francis walked past an empty confessional box, where he was meant to hear confessions, and knelt at a nearby confessional occupied by an ordinary priest. There, he offered confession in full view of the congregation, clergy, and media. (Nobody could hear anything, obviously.)
Popes have always confessed in private, never in public.
As a prominent Vatican blogger put it, "No pope has ever been seen as penitent."
Here's the surprising video.