Francisco Velarde, a 21-year-old Spaniard, was one of the young people who had the privilege of going to confession with Pope Francis on Friday, Aug. 4, at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. / Credit: ACI Prensa/YouTube
ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 7, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).
Francisco Velarde, a 21-year-old Spaniard, was one of the young people who had the privilege of going to confession with Pope Francis on Friday, Aug. 4, at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal.
A few hours later, and still “in a cloud,” he told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, the details of what he considers “the confession of my life.”
“I still don’t believe it a bit; I’m in a cloud trying to assimilate everything, receiving a bit of peace of mind, because it really has been… Imagine, I still can’t believe it and five hours have passed,” Velarde told ACI Prensa, although he added: “I still don’t want to [stop] believing it.”
The young man from Córdoba, a city in southern Spain, received the news of this unforgettable event a month ago. “I’ve spent 30 nights tossing around what was going to happen today,” he said.
In order to prepare himself properly, he began to write down in a notebook what he wanted to tell the pope: “We don’t have much time, about 10 or 15 minutes, and I really wanted to summarize the important things I wanted to talk to the Holy Father about, question my life and let him advise me.”
“Until this last night, it’s been hard to sleep, but it has helped me a lot to simplify everything I wanted to say and to have that mind of opening up with the Holy Father, which in the end, whether you want it or not, makes you a bit ashamed.”
“I told him the sins that cause me the most pain,” Velarde explained, saying it was the confession of his life “because I don’t think there is much probability that something like this will happen again.”
“It was the confession of my life,” he repeated, “and I also confessed things that, although they were already confessed, today, having the opportunity to be with the Holy Father, I wanted him to advise me and present them to him as a representative of God on earth, I wanted to present it to him and also receive his forgiveness for all these things.”
During the sacrament of reconciliation, Pope Francis “stopped me, commented on something, gave me some notion of giving my life.”
“He invited me to be brave, to love even when it is difficult and when we have less reason to love, to continue loving.” The Holy Father also invited him to maintain “the joy of being brave, the courage to follow Christ.”
The young Spaniard, with the pope’s permission, claimed to be his “messenger” and encouraged all young people “to be brave and have courage.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.