By Ella Ide
Vatican City (AFP) - Dubbed 'super confessors', for one year only they can absolve sins usually only pardoned by the pope himself.
And on Wednesday over 1,000 of these "missionaries of mercy", handpicked by Pope Francis, were sent forth to win back the hearts of those who have left the Catholic Church and open the door to repentant sinners across the world.
There are certain evils the Vatican ranks above other sins, from attempting to assassinate the pope to defiling the Eucharist -- the rite of consuming consecrated bread and wine in Church -- by spitting it out or using it in a Satanic ritual.
Since the 12th century, those guilty of these so-called "reserved sins" had their cases evaluated by a secret tribunal in the tiny Vatican city state before they were sent before the pope, who would determine an appropriate penance.
Now, 1,142 priests and monks from around the world have be given the power, for the Vatican's Jubilee Year, to forgive sinners in their flocks -- and possibly fellow priests as one of the special sins is breaking the seal of confession.
Maltese Franciscan Marcello Ghirlando, 53, told AFP he thought giving the 'super confessors' authority usually reserved for the man in white was "a symbolic gesture" to show people the Church is ready to wipe slates clean... (continued)