We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness Pope Francis for his letter on the year of Mercy. He makes valuable and moving considerations on the limitless Mercy of God that is extended to everyone.
At the same time, the faithful have to receive this mercy, which means taking concrete actions. To receive this mercy one must open his heart and mind to God in prayer, offer sincere repentance, make a sincere commitment to amend his life, and offer reparations as needed.
One who has personally experienced the infinite mercy of God will not only express his loving gratitude to the Father of all mercies, but will testify to this mercy as well. This testimony can have a great missionary value, as it could bring others to the faith.
We should also express our gratitude to the Holy Father to extend this indulgence to the sick, the home bound and to prisoners.
Following the constant teaching of the Church through the centuries, the indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. Regrettably, one of the many teachings of the Church that is not sufficiently taught these days is the obligation in justice and charity to pray for the deceased so that they can be duly purified to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. So here we have a timely reminder on this constant obligation.
The Holy Father should be congratulated for his heartfelt teachings on the horrible tragedy of abortion. He points out very well, “The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails.” It is very important, as the Holy Father emphasizes, to give hope to women that have committed an abortion and are prepared to repent and return to God. It is totally true that “The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.”
The Holy Father should further be commended for granting to all priests the ability during this Jubilee Year to absolve of the sin of abortion and to forgive those who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. With this generous action from Pope Francis we are reminded of the gravity of the sin of abortion in that the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion is reserved to bishops, even as many bishops have justly delegated this faculty to priests in their dioceses. It is important also that the Pope points out that priests should generously welcome those who have committed this sin, even as they should share with the penitent “a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed.”
We note with strong approval the pope’s direction that the priest should indicate with precision “a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father.” This path in many cases will entail a serious change of lifestyle, avoiding the sins that lead to abortion, taking up a life of prayer and charity with the guidance and assistance of a parish community or other approved Catholic group. At the same time the priest should make all possible efforts to convince the penitent that Christ has truly forgiven her and she should not trouble herself anymore for the sin she has committed. The priest for the spiritual good of the person who repents should impose a penance proportional to the sin committed and in harmony with the mercy God offers the penitent.
I am particularly moved and grateful to the Holy Father that he has granted jurisdiction to all priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X to hear confessions during the Holy Year of Mercy. We should pray that this act of generous understanding of the Vicar of Christ might be the beginning of the solving of all the canonical and pastoral difficulties that still remain with the SSPX. We have to keep in mind that this decision of the Holy Father involves hundreds of priests and will benefit thousands of faithful all over the world. Let us hope and pray that this act of genuine mercy by the Holy Father towards SSPX should be fully received and imitated by all the Bishops of the Catholic Church welcoming with open arms all the faithful that want to receive the sacraments and live their spiritual life in accordance with the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.