Pope tells Missionaries of Mercy to bring back lost sheep

Pope Francis has laid out his vision of re-evangelisation in the 21st century, stating that the “club of judgement” will not bring back the lost sheep.

Francis told hundreds of priests who are to serve as “Missionaries of Mercy” during the jubilee year that holiness of life is the principle of renewal and reform in the Church.

“Holiness is nourished by love and knows how to bring upon itself the weight of those who are weaker,” he said.

“A missionary of mercy takes the sinner on his shoulders, and consoles him or her with the power of compassion.”

Altogether, 1142 clerics from six continents will serve as missionaries of mercy.

The priests received their mandate on Ash Wednesday at St Peter’s Basilica.

They are to hear confessions during the year and will be granted “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”

This latter faculty is limited to the following sins

  1. “Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose;”
  2. “Use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff;”
  3. “Absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue;”
  4. “A direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.”

In his address to the missionaries on the day before Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on the shame people sometimes feel in coming to Confession.

“Do not forget,” the Pope exhorted the priests, “before us there is not sin, but the penitent sinner – a person that feels the desire to be accepted and pardoned.”

“. . .[W]e are not called to judge, with a sense of superiority, as if we were immune from sin,” said Francis.

“On the contrary, we are called to act like Shem and Japheth, the sons of Noah, who took a robe over their father to hide his shame.”


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