Pope opens Holy Year, places mercy above judgement
Pope Francis has opened the Jubilee Year of Mercy by calling for a Church that always puts mercy before judgement.
In a Mass at St Peter’s Square on December 8, Francis said the holy year is a gift of grace.
“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we affirm that sins are punished by his judgment before putting first that they are forgiven by his mercy!” the Pope exhorted. “It is truly so,” he said. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in every case God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy. Let us abandon all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved,” said Francis.
Saying that Christ is the door “through which we come to [God]”, the Pope pushed through the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica.
Retired Pope Benedict XVI was the second person to follow Francis through the door.
At the St Peter’s celebration on December 8, tribute was also paid to the Second Vatican Council, which officially closed its work on December 8, 1965.
The eucharistic celebration on Tuesday was opened with readings of excerpts from the Council’s four constitutions and its documents on ecumenism and religious liberty.
In his homily, Francis noted the council was “a true encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the force of the Spirit, who pushed the Church to emerge from the shoals which for many years had kept her closed in herself, to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey,” he continued. “It was the resumption of a journey of going to meet every person where they live: in their cities, in their homes, in their workplaces,” he said.
- National Catholic Reporter
- Full text of Pope Francis’s homily at the inauguration of the Holy Year
At a time of sometimes bitter conflict – between the relative virtues of Judgement and Mercy – among the Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion, where some Provinces have distanced themselves from others on issues of gender and sexuality and arguments over the meaning of the scriptures on such issues; this timely reminder from the Head of the Roman Catholic Church (about pastoral priorities) ought warn us of the dangers of intentional schism.
In his reference to the gargantuan leap in liturgical and pastoral theology made in the 2nd Vatican Council, Pope Francis reminds his own Church (the largest Christan body) that the task of renewal is not yet over, and more has yet to be done in the area of opening up the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers than has yet been brought about as a result of the Council called together by Pope John XXIII in the early 1960s.
The final quote in this excerpt from the Pope’s speech on the occasion of opening up ‘a Year of Mercy’ in the Roman Catholic Church could well be the watchword for us Anglicans:
” An encounter marked by the force of the Spirit, who pushed the Church to emerge from the shoals which for many years had kept her closed in herself, to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of going to meet every person where they live: in their cities, in their homes, in their workplaces,” he said.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand