On a Mission for Mercy

Priests who are Missionaries of Mercy for the Holy Year attend Pope Francis' celebration of Ash Wednesday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On Ash Wednesday this year, Pope Francis welcomed more than 700 “missionaries of mercy” to the Vatican to receive a special mandate. These are priests who responded to Francis’ call, prior to the Year of Mercy, for members of the clergy to take on this role, which includes special authority to absolve sins for which absolution has been traditionally reserved to the Holy See. More than 1,000 priests from around the globe have been given this mandate, including 125 from the United States. They will seek to live out this mission of mercy in their own dioceses but may also be invited by bishops to visit other dioceses.

It is no coincidence that this commission coincided with the start of the Lenten season, during which the church reflects more deeply on prayer, penance and sacrifice. The sending forth of these missionaries serves as a reminder of the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation in healing our relationship with Christ and our community. But while the official title may be given only to some, the mission of mercy has been given to all of us. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization encouraged priests who were not among those chosen for the role to “work as witnesses of mercy in their own daily missions, in the parishes, institutes, and other communities where they offer their service with love.” And the same can be urged of all people of good will. Mercy is not confined to a particular role or state in the church but rather is given to us freely by God and lived out fully and truly by all who desire it.

Advertisement
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

There is scarcely a parent alive who has not at some point uttered the words, “You’re not wearing that, are you?”
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 09, 2018
The three questions God asks Adam and Eve lay bare the threefold nature of their wrongdoing.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 08, 2018
Jennifer Jones and Vincent Price in ‘The Song of Bernadette' (photo: alamy.com)
"The Song of Bernadette" follows a classic horror-film structure in order to make a theological point that could not be more urgent.
Eve TushnetDecember 07, 2018
The BBC adaptation of ‘Brideshead’ starred Anthony Andrews, Laurence Olivier and Jeremy Irons. (photo: alamy.com)
A 11-part television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s great novel aired weekly on PBS in 1981.
Rob Weinert-KendtDecember 07, 2018