Pope formally asks Church to be place of mercy and pardon

In a formal act, Pope Francis has called on the Church to refashion itself as a place, not of judgment or condemnation, but of pardon and merciful love.

The Pope did this in an official Bull of Indiction convoking the extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy, which will run from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016.

The 9500 word document, Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of Mercy”), was released on Saturday.

It opens with the declaration, “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith”.

The document develops three main themes.

First, Pope Francis dwelt on the theological understanding of God’s mercy.

Secondly, the Pope offered practical ways to live well the Holy Year.

Thirdly, he issued particular calls for justice and conversion.

“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life,” Francis wrote.

“The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.”

The motto of the Holy Year is “Merciful like the Father,” a phrase taken from Luke’s Gospel.

The pontiff identified mercy as the central function of the Church and the key aspect of Jesus’ ministry and work.

He added that our own exercise of pardon will determine how we will eventually be judged.

Francis wrote that mercy and justice are not contradictory, but are “two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love”.

God envelopes justice “and surpasses it with an even greater event (mercy) in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice”.

“The temptation . . . to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step,” the Pope explained.

“The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more,” he stated.

The Pope has requested that every diocese in the world open a “Door of Mercy” similar to the one he will open on December 8 at St Peter’s Basilica.

And, during Lent of the Holy Year, the Pope will send out priests to whom he will grant “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See”.


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