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Pope’s mercy brigade

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis is looking for missionaries of mercy, priests who are known for their preaching, dedication to hearing confession and giving absolution.

Priests interested in becoming one of the special communicators of God’s mercy are invited to apply online, providing that they have the support of their bishop or superior.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, the office charged with coordinating the Holy Year of Mercy, which begins December 8, posted a list of desired qualities and the application form on the Year of Mercy website.

The priests will be commissioned formally by the pope and take up their appointments on Ash Wednesday next year, February 10.

The council says the priests are to be “a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness.”

It adds that they should be “inspiring preachers of mercy; heralds of the joy of forgiveness; welcoming, loving and compassionate confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person.”

The council noted that with an invitation from a local bishop, the priests will preach and administer the sacrament of reconciliation during special Year of Mercy events.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, he said he would give the missionaries of mercy special authority or faculties to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the reference to reserved sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

He said that if the person is repentant, the priests would be able to rescind the excommunication and grant absolution in all cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the apostolic penitentiary—a Vatican court.


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