Pope Francis will personally hear confessions at the Vatican on Friday

The initiative is part of Pope Francis' Jubilee Year of Mercy.Reuters

Pope Francis will personally hear confessions at the Vatican on Friday.

The Vatican announced yesterday that the pope will preside over the Rite of Reconciliation beginning at 5pm on March 4. He will spend time listening to individuals and giving absolution to penitents.

His participation is part of the 24-hour 'Confession drive', or '24 hours for the Lord' running from March 4-5. Across the globe, priests will be available in cathedrals and churches to hear Confession. Millions of Catholics are expected to take part.

The initiative is part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Holy Years usually only take place every 25 years, but Pope Francis called a special one beginning in December on the theme of mercy.

Since becoming pope, he has urged the Catholic Church to become more inclusive. "We have to put mercy before judgement," he said in his homily marking the beginning of the Jubilee year.

According to Church teaching, Holy Years should be a time of reconciliation, during which people should work to promote hope, justice and solidarity.

In his Lent message, Francis said he wants the season to "be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God's mercy".

"By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative '24 Hours for the Lord', I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God's word, especially his prophetic word," he added.

"The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand."

The pope last month sent out more than 1,000 'missionaries of mercy' to forgive sins all over the world, including transgressions such as abortion, which is usually reserved for high-ranking officials to absolve.