“I think it’s because the Church is in such great need of a sacramental renewal — a recognizing of the ministry of reconciliation and ministry of mercy.”
Participants in the international meeting heard talks by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household.
They also attended the papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Divine Mercy Sunday. In his homily, Pope Francis directly addressed the Missionaries of Mercy, saying: “If you do not feel forgiven, do not carry out your service as a Missionary of Mercy until you feel that forgiveness. The mercy that we have received enables us to dispense a great deal of mercy and forgiveness.”
Since they were commissioned in the Year of Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy have led missions in parishes around the world, with a particular focus on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In his address on Monday, the pope urged priests to be generous confessors.
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“Always forgive. Please always forgive,” he said. “With Christ’s forgiveness, you don’t play, you don’t joke.”
Father John Paul told CNA: “I think people forget the reality and power of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance. When people stay away from the sacraments — especially, I believe, in the pandemic — and start coming back to the sacraments, you sense it.”
“I’ve had that experience in Confession. You sense the relief of people when they hear the words of absolution, when they are forgiven of their sins, when they bring those sins to Jesus Christ to be forgiven. You sense almost a tangible, a visceral relief, a letting go of baggage, darkness, that’s buried before God, that’s obliterated in God’s mercy. Sin is obliterated. Sin exists no more.”
He went on: “When we bring sin before God and confess it with contrition, with a firm purpose of amendment, sin is obliterated. It’s gone. It’s in God’s mercy. It’s buried. It’s forgiven.”
“The pope is really wanting people to encounter the merciful face of Christ in Confession and the Missionaries of Mercy are to be at the forefront. We’re to be the face of Jesus Christ. We’re to be welcoming ministers of God, of God’s mercy, to welcome people back into the embrace of Christ, into the Church, and not to be judgmental but just totally embracing and totally welcoming.”