Missionaries of Mercy
During the Holy Year of Mercy, the Pope wants to show “the Church’s maternal solicitude” by sending “missionaries of mercy” throughout the world to forgive even the most serious of sins.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the office coordinating events for the Holy Year of Mercy, said the priests will be chosen on the basis of their ability to preach well, especially on the theme of mercy, and be “good confessors,” meaning they are able to express God’s love and do not make the confessional, as Pope Francis says, like “a torture chamber”. The Year of Mercy will be celebrated from December 8, 2015 until November 20, 2016.
The missionaries of mercy will be 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, (TheFace of Mercy), the document officially proclaiming the Holy Year. According to Archbishop Fisichella, among the qualifications those selected to be missionaries of mercy will have to “be patient” and have “an understanding of human fragility,” the archbishop added.
Bishops can recommend to the council priests from their own dioceses to serve as missionaries of mercy, he said, and priests themselves can submit their request to serve.
When a priest volunteers, however, the council will confer with his bishop to make sure he would be “suitable for this ministry” and has the bishop’s approval to serve temporarily as a missionary of mercy, the archbishop explained.
The year-long extraordinary jubilee also will include several individual jubilee days, such as for the Roman Curia, catechists, teenagers and prisoners.
The motto, “Merciful Like the Father,” Archbishop Fisichella said, “serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.”
Pope Francis announced in March of 2015 his intention to proclaim a holy year as a way for the Church to “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy.”