22 Nov 2016

Now is a time of mercy: Pope issues new Apostolic Letter





Although the Extraordinary Jubilee Year has concluded, we are still living in a “time of mercy.” That was the message of Pope Francis in a lengthy Apostolic Letter, entitled Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”), issued on Monday following the close of the Year of Mercy.

The experience of mercy, he noted, gives rise to the joy of knowing we are loved and turns us into instruments of mercy.

The Pope then reflected on the various ways in which the Church celebrates mercy—in the Mass, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, in hearing and reading Sacred Scripture—as well as important ways in which the Church lives out mercy.

In this context, the Pope announced the continuation of some initiatives of the jubilee year, such as the encouragement to hold 24 hours of confessions around the Fourth Sunday of Lent, as well as new initiatives, such as the celebration of the Day of the Poor on the Sunday before the Feast of Christ the King, and devoting a Sunday making Sacred Scripture better known.

The Pope indefinitely extended faculties to Missionaries of Mercy to absolve sins reserved to the Holy See and extended faculties to all priests to absolve the sin of abortion.

“This is the time of mercy,” the Pope concluded. “It is the time of mercy because no sinner can ever tire of asking forgiveness, and all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Father.

Read full report from Vatican Radio here.

Full text of Pope Francis apostolic letter HERE.


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Fr John Zuhlsdorf the online blogger and commentator made the point:
Priests have long had the power to forgive the sin of abortion. However, procuring an abortion incurs also a censure of excommunication, which is to be absolved in a separate step. Canon law reserves the lifting of this particular excommunication to the bishop. Pope Francis extended this faculty to lift the excommunication to all priests. Most of the bishops in these USA have already given this faculty to their priests as a response to the growing numbers of abortions performed. That speeds up the reconciliation process many times. 
ALSO… and this is important.  It is not just the women who go for the abortion who commit the sin and incur the censure.  Men involved can incur it.  Anyone directly involved can commit the sin and incur the censure.   There are many ways to participate in the sin of another person.
Ed Condon writing in the Catholic Herald also clarifies the poor choice of language used -  The Pope’s abortion comments have provoked confusion. The Curia could have avoided this

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