One of the last things Jesus did on earth after his Resurrection and before his Ascension into heaven was to give his Apostles his authority to forgive sins (John 20:21-13).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, like all Sacraments, was instituted by Christ. It was given to us as a gift to restore our relationship to him after we damage or break it through sin. Often the Sacrament is made use of only infrequently, and mainly during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. But Pope Francis has clearly been trying to encourage his flock to appreciate the Sacrament on a deeper level in hope that they will make use of it much more frequently.