CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 March 2018

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Mercy at the centre of five years of papacy

The 13th of March will mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate. Over the past five years, he has brought the Catholic Church new life. In particular, his concern for the poor and the disadvantaged in words and deeds, and his commitment to the promotion of peace have greatly impressed people within and outside the Church.
What is most impressive is that he stresses on the Church to “go out” to care for the poor and to practise social teaching.
The pope’s style has been refreshing. Through a painstaking reformation of the Curia, particularly devolving the powers to local bishops and financial transparency, he has sought to transform the Church into a Servant Church. Over the past five years, despite much resistance, he still carries on with his reforms.
Throughout this papacy, Pope Francis has endeavoured to safeguard human dignity and extended his special concern and care for refugees, migrants, street sleepers, and men and women who suffer from human trafficking, violence and war. 
He urged Catholic families in Rome to set a good example by giving their support to refugee families so that they might lead a new life. His constant encounters with ordinary people enable him to develop a feeling of empathy towards the poor and needy. 
Initiating the World Day of the Poor and the Jubilee Year of Mercy to share the merciful face of God are hallmarks of his pontificate.
Regarding the issues of marriage and gender, despite being criticised for being traditional and conservative, the pope showed pastoral care. 
His apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), has ignited discussions among many theologians and faithful. On issues such as whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion or not; care for those gays and lesbians who are seeking God; the possibility of female deacons, and so on, we see that the pope values pastoral care more than doctrinal debates, emphasizes mercy and forgiveness, and considers the Church “a field hospital.”
With the setting up of the Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the sexual abuse of minors within the Church, he hopes to remedy the wrongdoings done by the Church leadership in the past.
Concerned about ecology and climate change, Pope Francis issued the encyclical, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home) in 2015 to propose the concept of ecological conversion for the future of the generations to come after us.
Living in Hong Kong, we are aware that Pope Francis has again and again expressed his hope to visit China. While being concerned about the recent developments of a possible Sino-Vatican agreement on the episcopal appointments in mainland China, the faithful must place their trust in the Lord and know that in spite of the tempests that surround, he will never let his ship be wrecked! 
We pray for our pope and our country. Our Lady of Sheshan, pray for us! SE