Pope Francis stunned parishioners, faith leaders and his own master of ceremonies Friday when he broke protocol to do something wholly unexpected: he bowed down in front of the crowd at St. Peter's Basilica and confessed his sins to an ordinary priest, Reuters reported.
Typically, the pope goes to confession in private, so his decision was a departure from the past.
Francis made the noteworthy move after uttering a sermon in which he covered the importance of confession in the Catholic faith.
In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis is confessed by a priest in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, March 28, 2014. AP Photo/L' Osservatore Romano)
"Who can say he is not a sinner? Nobody. We all are," the pope told an audience of thousands.
Afterward, he was supposed to join 60 priests around the massive church in hearing the sins of the faithful, but he had a very different plan.
In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis is confessed by a priest in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, March 28, 2014. (AP Photo/L' Osservatore Romano)
When Monsignor Guido Marini, master of ceremonies, pointed Francis toward an empty booth to hear the congregants' sins, the pope went to a different booth and knelt before a priest to share his own sins for a few minutes.
After that, Francis did hear confessions from the faithful.
Watch it unfold on video below:
Popes traditionally hear confessions of the faithful on Good Friday morning, though Francis chose to hold this event three weeks early, the Associated Press reported.