Missionaries of mercy come home to Scotland
Publication Date: 2016-02-19
Pope Francis chooses six Scottish priests to hear confession at every opportunity this year
The Pope has sent six missionaries of mercy to Scotland to help open our hearts to God.
On Ash Wednesday in Rome Pope Francis prayed for more than 700 of the newly commissioned Missionaries of Mercy present, saying ‘May Christ’s voice resound in their words and Christ’s heart in their gestures.’
More than 700 of the 1142 missionaries appointed by the Pope attended the Mass, part of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy programme. Dressed in white vestments and purple stoles, the men received the Pope’s mandate to preach about God’s mercy and special authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See. Among their numbers were five priests from Scotland: Fr Tom Monaghan from St Cadoc’s Newton Mearns, Fr Ross Campbell of Glasgow University Chaplaincy, Fr Robert Kane from St Teresa’s Newarthill, Fr Ross Crichton from St Mary’s Benbecula and Fr Peter Damian-Grint, an Opus Dei Priest based in Glasgow.
Fr Michael John Galbraith of St James’ in St Andrews was not present in Rome but will shortly receive his designation from the Apostolic nuncio to the UK.
“Dear brothers, may you be able to help open the doors of people’s hearts as well as bless, heal and raise them up with a father’s love,” the Pope said to the missionaries at the beginning of Lent.
Fr Monaghan said being in Rome for the event was a ‘very beautiful, emotional and encouraging experience.’
“The Pope talked about how God never tires of giving us mercy,” he told the SCO. “And in receiving that mercy we can give it on to others.”
He added that ‘there is a sense every priest is a missionary of mercy, so our real mission is to try and be available to hear Confession at every opportunity.’
“There are a lot of people who won’t have received the Sacrament for a long time and will hopefully rediscover the joy of it, the sense that this is an encounter with Christ,” he said.
Fr Damian-Grint said that the Pope had placed a ‘lot of emphasis on the Sacrament of Reconciliation being a key part of the year of mercy.’
“I have to receive mercy from God otherwise I can’t give mercy,” he said. “God never tires of giving forgiveness, we just tire of asking.”
Fr Damian-Grint added that hearing confessions would be key to their mission but it was ‘very clear the Pope wants us to also preach the Mercy of God.”
The missionaries of mercy are specially selected priests who have been granted ‘the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See,’ the Pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus, (The Face of Mercy), the document officially proclaiming the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The priests will also have to ‘be patient’ and have ‘an understanding of human fragility,’ Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, the office organising events for the Holy Year of Mercy, said.
Priests have been selected from all continents, including priests for the Eastern Catholic churches, and all of them have received permission from their bishops or religious superiors to engage in this special ministry.
—This story ran in full in the February 19 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.