Pope issues apostolic letter on mercy, extends faculties for SSPX, abortion absolutions
November 21, 2016
Reflecting on the fruits of the extraordinary jubilee year of mercy, Pope Francis has issued Misericordia et Misera, an apostolic letter on mercy.
In the letter—dated November 20 and released the following day—Pope Francis said that mercy “must continue to be celebrated and lived out in our communities.
”The example of Christ’s mercy toward the woman caught in adultery is “an icon of what we have celebrated during the Holy Year,” the Pope stated. “Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very existence, through which the profound truths of the Gospel are made manifest and tangible.”
The experience of mercy, he continued, 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. The Pope wrote:
I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.
Pope Francis added:
For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins. For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.