To be fair, all the recent popes went to confession regularly. However I must say: it's nice to see Pope Francis doing it in public.
Actually, I have found personally that confessing your sins--taking ownership of them by admitting them out load to another person--is extremely important. And, regardless of what you think of Catholic sacramental theology (I know many readers of this blog are not Catholic), clearly forgiveness of sins in Scripture is not something that is merely be individualistic. In the New Testament, reconciliation occurs within the ecclesial context (cf. Matt 18:15-22; John 20:21-23). Confessing your sins in the church--at least in the presence of a representative of the church who is specially trained at giving spiritual direction--is essential for true healing.
It's really great to see Pope Francis emphasizing the importance of confession by practicing it himself--no one is above it, not even the pope! (Or better put: especially, not the pope!)