Pope Reaches out to ex-Priests & Families

Ex-priests, their wives and families get surprise visit from Pope

Ex-priests, their wives and families were surprised by a visit from Pope Francis last Friday.

The visit marked the end of the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy.

In an interview last December, Francis said the Holy Year is a response to the world’s need for a “revolution of tenderness” from which “justice and all the rest derives.”

“We are used to bad news, cruel news, and to even bigger atrocities, which offend the name and life of God.”

Ending those tragedies requires a spirit of mercy, he said.

The seven former priests included a Spaniard and a Latin American as well as five Italians.The Vatican said all seven had struggled with their eventual decision to leave the priesthood. The Vatican statement also said “The Holy Father’s visit was highly appreciated by all those present who did not hear the Pope make a judgment on their choice, but felt his closeness and affection.”

Francis listened to each of the former priests’ stories, and was able to show them he was aware of each of their particular situations. “His paternal word has reassured everyone on his friendship and the certainty of his personal interest,” the Vatican statement ended.

“In this way, again, Pope Francis wanted to give a sign of mercy to those who live a situation of spiritual and material distress …”.

The visit was one of the Pope’s last acts of mercy during the Holy Year. Each month during the past 12 months, Francis has undertaken a special act of mercy. He has visited refugees and elderly people, for example, and hosted and apologised to thousands of  for any possible hurts he may have inflicted on them.

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Thanks to NZ CATHNEWS for this article.

Putting his ‘money where his mouth is’, Pope Francis has ensured that Roman Catholics who are on the margins of acceptability because of their departure from the Magisterial teaching of the Church are no longer ignored by their Church.

In this Year of Mercy, proclaimed by the Pope just one year ago, Pope Francis has taken care to personally approach categories of people who have in some way departed from Church teaching and may have felt abandoned by the Church. One category was that of divorced and remarried Catholics who have been debarred from receiving the Eucharist. There is now an openness, in certain circumstances, for the restoration of their right to receive Holy Communion.

However, this particular problem, of former priests who have had to leave their ministry in the Church because of their rejection of the rule of celibacy happens to be an area of great sensitivity – especially in the light of the fact that Rome has accepted former Anglican clergy who are actually married at the time of their acceptance and ordination into the roman Catholic Church. This has, in some places – especially in the U.K. – raised up the prospect of married clergy and celibate clergy being allowed to coexist on a structured basis within the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope’s visitation of former Catholic clergy who are now married was reported by the Vatican source as an ‘act of mercy’ at the end of this extraordinary year of pastoral caring by the Head of the Roman Catholic Church:

“The Vatican statement also said “The Holy Father’s visit was highly appreciated by all those present who did not hear the Pope make a judgment on their choice, but felt his closeness and affection.”

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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