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Teenagers get surprise chance to confess sins to the pope

  • Pope Francis shakes hands with a young faithful after confessing him, during Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP Photo) ITALY OUT

    Pope Francis shakes hands with a young faithful after confessing him, during Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP Photo) ITALY OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis confesses a young faithful during the Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/POOL photo via AP)

    Pope Francis confesses a young faithful during the Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/POOL photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis confesses a young faithful during the Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/POOL photo via AP)

    Pope Francis confesses a young faithful during the Youth Jubilee at Saint Peter square in Vatican, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis. The pontiff made a surprise appearance in St. Peter’s Square, where thousands were participating in Holy Year youth activities, with confession outdoors at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano/POOL photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Sixteen teenagers have gotten an unexpected opportunity to confess sins to Pope Francis.

The pontiff made a surprise appearance late Saturday morning in St. Peter's Square, where thousands of Catholics faithful, ranging in age from 13 to 16, were participating in a special Holy Year youth day, including confession near the famed Colonnade of Bernini.

Francis and each of the 16 teenagers sat face-to-face in simple chairs set up in pairs for him and many others hearing confessions in the square. The teenagers seemed at ease, with Francis shaking hands warmly with the youths. In all, the pope spent more than an hour in the square.

He has dedicated the Holy Year to two central themes of his papacy: mercy and reconciliation.