Vatican City, 18 March 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the importance of sacramental Confession during this liturgical period which, he said, is "a time in which to pay greater attention to the voice of God".

On the horizon ahead of us during Lent is the profile of the cross of Christ, "the apex of the love which brings us salvation. ... Jesus was raised on the cross so that anyone in danger of dying because of sin, by turning in faith to the One Who died for us, would be saved".

Benedict XVI explained how God's merciful love is infinite and reaches so far as the giving of His only Son as a pledge for our sins. We therefore have a great responsibility. "Each one of us must, in fact, recognise we are sick in order to be healed. Each must confess our sins, so that the forgiveness of God, already given on the cross, can have an effect on our hearts and our lives".

"Sometimes", the Pope went on, "man loves the shadows more than the light, because he clings to his sin. But it is only by opening himself to the light, by sincerely confessing his sins to God, that he can find true peace and true joy. It is, then, important to make regular use of the Sacrament of Penance, especially during Lent, in order to receive the Lord's forgiveness and intensify our journey of conversion".

The Pope thanked people who were praying for him for his name day, on tomorrow's Feast of St. Joseph. He likewise asked the faithful for their prayers for his forthcoming apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, which is due to begin on Friday. "I invite everyone to accompany me with their spiritual proximity", he said, "so that this visit may bring abundant fruits of Christian life and ecclesial renewal, contributing to the authentic progress of peoples".

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father remarked on the fact that the Sixth World Water Forum came to an end yesterday in the French city of Marseille, and that this Thursday will be World Water Day. "I hope that these initiatives may contribute to ensuring equal, secure and adequate access to water", he said, "thus promoting every human being's right to life and nutrition, and the responsible use of the goods of the earth for the benefit of present and future generations".