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(NBC) -- Pope Francis has made a confession, and it's a doozy. He stole another priest's rosary cross right from his casket.

The pontiff said the cross belonged to a clergyman known as "the Great Confessor" of Buenos Aires because he had heard the sins of most of the city's diocesan priests and even Pope John Paul II when he visited Argentina.

When the man died, Francis was arranging roses around his casket when he saw the rosary in his hand.

"And immediately there came to mind the thief we all have inside ourselves and while I arranged the flowers I took the cross and with just a bit of force I removed it," he told a group of priests Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

"And in that moment I looked at him and I said 'Give me half your mercy.'"

Francis keeps the cross in a little pouch under his cassock, he said.

"And whenever a bad thought comes to mind about someone, my hand goes here, always," he said, gesturing to his heart. "And I feel the grace, and that makes me feel better."

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