I'm always reminded of people's horror stories of confessing to a priest who was hard of hearing, not that the pope is hard of hearing but that was the image that came to mind.
From MSNBC - Pope John Paul hearsGood Friday confessions:
"At the Vatican, the frail 83-year-old pontiff was wheeled into the basilica by aides and into a mahogany confessional booth near the main altar. He spent about an hour there, hearing the confessions of five men and six women of various nationalities.
In a taxing Holy Week schedule, John Paul, dressed in red vestments, presided over a late afternoon service in the basilica. The service commemorated the passion and death of Christ."