BY Ian Dunn | April 17 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Let goodness and mercy follow you in, out of church

Officially proclaiming the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope envisions a non-judging, non-condemning Church and Scotland responds to his call

Pope Francis said he wants every church in the world to ‘offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation’ as he proclaimed the upcoming 2015-2016 Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In Scotland, Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld said that the Year of Mercy, which begins on December 8, was a chance for the Scottish Church to embrace all its ‘lost sons and daughters,’ and cathedrals across Scotland are already planning how they will mark the year.

Standing in front of the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica last Saturday, before the first vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis handed copies of the official proclamation of the year to the archpriests of the major basilicas of Rome and to Vatican officials representing Catholics around the world.

The Pope says he proclaimed the Year of Mercy because ‘it is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.’

“How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God,” the Pope’s proclamation says. “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.”

Nothing in the Church’s preaching or witness, he says, can be lacking in mercy.

The Pope has asked that all dioceses around the world designate a ‘Door of Mercy’ at their cathedral or another special church or shrine, and that every diocese implement the ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative on the Friday and Saturday before the fourth week of Lent.

The Pop also says he will designate and send out ‘Missionaries of Mercy’ to preach about mercy. They will be given special authority, he said, ‘to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.’

Preaching mercy, the Pope believes, is not the same as ignoring sin or withholding correction. Instead, he says, mercy invites repentance and conversion and ensures the sinner that once God forgives a sin, he forgets it. Recognising that they have been treated with mercy by God, he says that Christians are obliged to treat others with mercy. In fact, the Gospel says that Christians will be judged by the mercy they show others.

Bishop Robson told the SCO that the Holy Year of Mercy was a chance to ‘reach all of these brothers and sisters’ lost to the Church.

“We reach them every day,” he said. “How often do we feel failures that they are lost? These are not irretrievably lost sheep, not absolutely lost sons and daughters.

“True their journey back to the Church may be long or tortuous or maybe it will be simple, but this Holy Year of Faith will give us the spiritual energy we need to make these things happen.”

In line with Pope Francis’ wish that every diocese in the world designate a ‘Door of Mercy’ at a cathedral or shrine, preparations are beginning around the country.

At Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral in Motherwell, a Holy Door was specialised installed for the last Holy Year, in the year 2000.

Mgr Thomas Millar, the cathedral administrator said that though plans were at a very early stage ‘there will be ceremonial opening of the Holy Door by the bishop, we know that. And more details will be released in due course!’


—This story ran in full in the April 17 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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