"The betrayal of Judas remains, in any case, a mystery. Jesus treated him as a friend (cf. Mt 26: 50); however, in his invitations to follow him along the way of the beatitudes, he does not force his will or protect it from the temptations of Satan, respecting human freedom.
"In effect, the possibilities to pervert the human heart are truly many. The only way to prevent it consists in not cultivating an individualistic, autonomous vision of things, but on the contrary, by putting oneself always on the side of Jesus, assuming his point of view. We must daily seek to build full communion with him.
"Let us remember that Peter also wanted to oppose him and what awaited him at Jerusalem, but he received a very strong reproval: "You are not on the side of God, but of men" (Mk 8: 33)!
"After his fall Peter repented and found pardon and grace. Judas also repented, but his repentance degenerated into desperation and thus became self-destructive.
"For us it is an invitation to always remember what St Benedict says at the end of the fundamental Chapter Five of his "Rule": "Never despair of God's mercy". In fact, God "is greater than our hearts", as St John says (I Jn 3: 20).
"Let us remember two things. The first: Jesus respects our freedom. The second: Jesus awaits our openness to repentance and conversion; he is rich in mercy and forgiveness."
(Benedict XVI, Judas Iscariot and Matthias in the General Audience, 18 October 2006)
"To fulfil such a duty we must, above all, root this message of salvation in ourselves and let it transform us deeply. We cannot preach pardon and reconciliation to others if we are not personally penetrated by it. As it is true that in our ministry there are various ways and instruments to communicate the merciful love of God to our brethren, it is, however, in the celebration of this Sacrament that we can do it in the most complete and eminent way.
"Christ has chosen us, dear priests, to be the only ones to be able to pardon sins in his Name: it concerns, then, a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority.
"How many people in difficulty seek the comfort and consolation of Christ! How many penitents find in confession the peace and joy that they sought for so long! How can one not recognize also in our age, marked by so many religious and social challenges, that this Sacrament also be rediscovered and proposed anew?
"Dear brothers, let us follow the example of the saints, in particular those who, like you, were almost exclusively dedicated to the ministry of the confessional. Among them are St Jean-Marie Vianney, St Leopold Mandic, and closer to us, St Pio of Pietrelcina.
"May they help you from heaven to be able to abundantly dispense the mercy and pardon of Christ. May Mary, Refuge of Sinners, obtain for you the strength, encouragement and hope to generously continue your indispensable mission.
(Benedict XVI, Address to Confessors of Four Major Basilicas, 19 February 2007)