Pope Francis said during a mass service Friday that people who cannot meet with a priest due to the coronavirus crisis should instead confess their sins to God on their own.
Catholic doctrine calls for people to confess their sins to a priest in order to receive forgiveness.
The Catholic Church also released a statement Friday saying confession to God, without the involvement of a priest (a practice called "act of perfect contrition") may be warranted in some areas because of widespread illness and lockdowns.
The pope urged people to "ask for pardon with all your heart."
"Return to your father who is waiting for you," Francis said. "The God of tenderness will heal us; He will heal us of the many, many wounds of life and the many ugly things we have done. Each of us has our own!"