POPE TELLS CONFESSORS “NOT TO BEAT UP ON PENITENTS” – WHO ARE THE MISSIONARIES OF MERCY?

As you will read below, Pope Francis celebrated Mass early this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair for the world’s Capuchin community. Later this afternoon – as I write – the Holy Father will receive in audience the priests whom he has named Missionaries of Mercy. I’m thrilled to know a number of these missionaries, including EWTN’s own Fr. John Paul! A profile of these missionaries is on the offical Vatican Jubilee site, and I present that as well today (see second story).

I was delighted this morning to read that a longtime friend of mine in the Roman Curia, Msgr. Peter Wells, was named today by Pope Francis as the Holy See’s new Apostolic Nuncio, or ambassador, in South Africa and Botswana.  Peter is currently Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, The Holy Father elevated Msgr. Wells to the titular see of Marcianopolis, with the dignity of archbishop (an apostolic nuncio is always an archbishop). The Tulsa, Oklahoma native and archbishop-designate entered the Holy See diplomatic service in July 1999 and was named Assessor at the Secretariat of State in 2009.

May the Lord bless you abundantly in your new ministry, Peter!

May God sit on your shoulder!

POPE TELLS CONFESSORS “NOT TO BEAT UP ON PENITENTS”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was the principal celebrant at a Mass offered for the worldwide Capuchin community on Tuesday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass was offered in connection with the presence in Rome and at St. Peter’s of the relics of two great Capuchin saints, who were renowned in their earthly lives as priest-confessors: St. Padre Pio and St. Leopold of Mandic. (photo Reuters / news.va)

CAPUCHINS

“I speak to you as a brother,” said Francis, “and through you I would like to speak to all confessors, especially in the Year of Mercy: The confessional is for pardon – and [even] if you cannot give absolution – let me say hypothetically – please, do not beat up on the penitent; one who comes [to the confessional], comes seeking comfort, pardon, peace in his soul; let him find a father who embraces him and says, ‘God loves you,’ and makes the penitent feel that God really does.”

The Holy Father went on to express a desire to see confessors everywhere with broad minds and open hearts, who never tire of being vehicles of divine pardon, and who understand the suffering of penitents because they know themselves to be sinners and the first to be in need of God’s saving mercy.

“Either you perform the office of Jesus, who forgives, giving His [whole] life in prayer – so many hours there [in the confessional], seated as were those two, “ said the Pope, pointing to the remains of Sts. Padre Pio and Leopold Mandic, “or, you perform the office of the devil who condemns, who accuses – I do not know – I can tell you nothing else.”

(JFL – A NOTE ON THE CAPUCHINS, one of three branches of the Franciscan order:

The Order of Friars Minor, the parent stem, if you will, was founded by St. Francis in 1209. They generally wear a chestnut brown habit.

The Friars Minor Conventuals: Since 1517 Conventuals has been used to designate that branch of the Franciscans that has accepted certain dispensations from the substantial observance of the rule in regard to poverty.  The name “Conventual” was first given to the religious residing in convents. Conventuals have worn black but are returning to gray

Friars Minor Capuchins are also from the 16th century reform of the Franciscan Order founded by Saint Francis. The Capuchin reform started when a group of friars wanted to live a more radical life of prayer and contemplation. Capuchins are missionaries and hard workers in the Lord’s vineyard, but Capuchins are also a contemplative Order and it is a Capuchin’s duty and identity to spend significant time alone in silence with God. The word “Capuchin” apparently came from the Italian word for “hood.” The first Capuchins were mocked for their long pointed hoods, being called “Scappuccini”; eventually, it became “Cappuccini,” which was “Capucin” in French and came into English as “Capuchin.” They are called Grayfriars in Britain. They wear brown or gray.)

WHO ARE THE MISSIONARIES OF MERCY?

On Ash Wednesday, the Missionaries of Mercy will be sent forth by Pope Francis during a celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica. The figure of the Missionary is described in the (Holy Year’s) Bull of Indication Misericordiae Vultus, number 18. The Jubilee website notes the following:

MISSIONARIES OF MERCY

Characteristics:

The Missionaries are to be:

  1. a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness;
  2. facilitators for all, with no one excluded, of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again;
  3. guided by the words, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all;
  4. inspiring preachers of Mercy;
  5. heralds of the joy of forgiveness;
  6. welcoming, loving, and compassionate Confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person.

Functions

The Missionaries will be invited by individual Diocesan Bishops within their particular country to give missions or facilitate specific initiatives organized for the Jubilee, with a particular attention given to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Holy Father will grant these Missionaries the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.

Letter from the Bishop

Every Missionary must have a letter of recommendation from his local Ordinary or Religious Superior which testifies to the suitability of the priest for this particular mission.

Candidacy for the Missionaries of Mercy closed November 2015.

Since the number of Missionaries of Mercy who have been accepted – who will come to Rome next Ash Wednesday to receive the special mandate from the Holy Father for their mission of preaching and confessions – has already greatly surpassed the hoped-for number, on November 25, 2015 the application process was closed.

The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization extends heartfelt thanks to all the priests who offered themselves for this service, including all those whose desire must desire remain only in their hearts.  To these latter in particular comes the encouragement to work as witnesses of Mercy in their own daily missions, in the parishes, institutes, and other communities where they offer their service with love.

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POPE FRANCIS, ORTHODOX PATRIARCH KIRILL TO HOLD HISTORIC ENCOUNTER IN CUBA – TWO FRANCISCAN SAINTS AND CONFESSORS ARRIVE IN VATICAN

Before I bring you two very significant news stories, I want to remind you to tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

POPE FRANCIS, ORTHODOX PATRIARCH KIRILL TO HOLD HISTORIC ENCOUNTER IN CUBA

(Vatican Radio)  It was announced on Friday that Pope Francis will hold a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Cuba on February 12th. It marks the first ever such meeting between a Roman Pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Here is the joint press release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow:

The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will. They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.

PATRIARCH KIRILL

The communique was released in Italian, Russian, English, French and Spanish.

TWO FRANCISCAN SAINTS AND CONFESSORS ARRIVE IN VATICAN

(Vatican Radio) The relics of St. Pius of Pietralcina – Padre Pio, as he is popularly known around the world – and St. Leopold Mandic, made their way on Friday afternoon from the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The relics of the two great saints – both of whom were Capuchin Franciscan friars and priests who were renowned as confessors – have come to Rome by the desire of Pope Francis in connection with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as part of efforts to renew, rekindle and strengthen interest in and love for the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.

PADRE PIO

Following a Mass in nearby San Salvatore, at which the principal celebrant was the Archbishop of Manfredonia – Vieste – San Giovanni Rotondo, Michele Castoro, the saints’ relics were carried in solemn procession through the streets of Rome, across the Tiber River and into St. Peter’s, where they were received by the Cardinal-Archpriest, Angelo Comastri, who, after a moment of prayer, accompanied them into the Basilica and saw them placed in the central nave before the Altar of the Confession for the faithful to venerate.

The relics will remain in St. Peter’s for veneration until the morning of February 11 when, after a Holy Mass of thanksgiving at 7:30 am at the Altar of the Chair, they will be returned to their places of repose.

 

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR AUGUST – ST. PADRE PIO’S REMAINS IN ST. PETER’S FOR ASH WEDNESDAY 2016 – FROM NOTRE DAME TO PHILADELPHIA – KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS EXPAND AID TO MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR AUGUST

The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for August: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.”

His intention for evangelization: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.”

PADRE PIO’S REMAINS IN ST. PETER’S FOR ASH WEDNESDAY 2016

(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican announced on Monday that the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, will be exposed for veneration in St. Peter’s Basilica during the Jubilee of Mercy from 8-14 February 2016.  (photo news.va)

ST PADRE PIO

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, wrote in a letter to the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo that it was Pope Francis who desired that Padre Pio’s reliquary be present in the Vatican for Ash Wednesday of the Jubilee of Mercy.

“The Holy Father has expressed his strong desire that the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina be exposed in St. Peter’s Basilica for Ash Wednesday of the upcoming Extraordinary Holy Year, the day in which he will send ‘Missionaries of Mercy’ throughout the world, giving them a special mandate to preach and confess so that they may be a living sign of how the Father welcomes all who seek his pardon,” Archbishop Fisichella wrote. The presence of St. Pio’s remains will be a precious sign for all missionaries and priests, who will find strength and support for their own mission in his admirable example of a untiring confessor, welcoming and patient, an authentic witness of the Mercy of the Father.”

FROM NOTRE DAME TO PHILADELPHIA

Here’s a great story from Notre Dame’s architecure school about a graduate who has built a sanctuary for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. You will have to click on the link to read it because each of the three times I have clicked on the link and then attempted to cut-and-paste the story to this column, Microsoft Windows closed all my Word documents. Not the first time my life that has happened: the annoying part is that it closes all open Word docs. http://news.nd.edu/news/59604-notre-dame-architecture-graduate-designs-a-sanctuary-for-pope-francis/

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS EXPAND AID TO MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS

Following is a press release from the Knights of Columbus that illustrates their plans for an expanded campaign of humanitarian aid to Christians in the Middle East:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Having already donated more than $3 million in humanitarian aid to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus will expand its efforts even further with a national campaign to raise funds and foster awareness of the terrible suffering of Christians and others in the Middle East.

As part of the K of C effort, a new commercial on the issue will be airing nationally beginning this weekend. It can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq–mXUhNfk

The Knights will also announce additional details of its program to aid Christian refugees at its international convention being held August 4-6 in Philadelphia. In attendance will be archbishops from Iraq and Syria, where the violence against Christians has been particularly severe.

An exposé on the deafening silence of the international community on this issue was published in the July 26 edition of The New York Times Magazine: “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?” It reported that extremist groups “are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight.”   In the article, which was featured on the magazine’s cover, author Eliza Griswold reported that, “according to a Pew study, more Christians are now faced with religious persecution than at any time since their early history.”

The Knights began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund in August 2014 with $1 million in matching funds that was quickly met and exceeded by its members and the public. The humanitarian assistance provided has included new housing for those who have had to flee their homes, as well as support for medical facilities in areas flooded with Christian and other refugees.

“Christians in the Middle East are facing a dire situation – and even extinction – while the response from the international community has woefully inadequate,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has urged the international community to take action to help Christians in the Middle East, and, as an organization that has long supported victims of religious persecution, the Knights of Columbus is responding by asking our own members, and the public at large, to help us save the lives of people who are being persecuted simply because of their Christian faith.”

Those wishing to assist with the relief efforts can donate by visiting http://www.christiansatrisk.org or by sending checks or money orders payable to Knights of Columbus Charities at P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966. The memo portion should indicate that the check is for Christian Refugee Relief.

One hundred percent of all donations directly supports humanitarian assistance and raising awareness for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, especially in the Middle East. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., is recognized by the IRS as a charitable organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The K of C has a long history of providing humanitarian relief and has done so following the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the 2013 typhoons in the Philippines; hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; nationwide tornadoes; flooding in Mexico; and tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan.

In the area of support for victims of religious persecution, the Knights provided humanitarian assistance and created international awareness of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico throughout the 1920s.

The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 1.9 million members worldwide. One of the most active charitable organizations in the United States, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $173.5 million and 71.5 million hours of service in 2014.

For more information visit http://www.kofc.org/en/christianRelief/index.html