Seeking reconciliation, Mumbai Catholics set to celebrate the 'Festival of Forgiveness' with Pope Francis
by Nirmala Carvalho
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mumbai Archbishop Card Oswald Gracias says that celebrations will begin at the archdiocesan seminary, "proclaiming, bearing witness to and celebrating God's mercy". Churches, religious houses, convents and seminaries plan to stay open during the event. In addition to hearing confessions, the cardinal will also a pilgrimage that is expected to draw 25,000 people.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in India will join the universal Church in celebrating the 'Festival of Forgiveness,' which Pope Francis announced for 28-29 March, said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai,

This special event will begin with a Mass at the archdiocesan seminary, which "is a community whose members are moving towards the priestly ministry," the prelate told AsiaNews.

"The archdiocese will begin the Festival of Forgiveness here, proclaiming, bearing witness to and celebrating God's mercy through the Sacrament of Penance. God will forgive us again."

Last Sunday after the Angelus, Pope Francis announced that he would celebrate a "special time of penance," a period of "24 hours for the Lord," on 28 and 29 March. For this purpose, St Peter's Basilica, as well as other churches in Rome and around the world, will be open for prayers and confession.

In the Archdiocese of Mumbai, churches, religious houses, convents and seminaries will also throw their doors open to celebrate the 'Festival of Forgiveness'.

On Saturday, after the Mass at the archdiocesan seminary, Cardinal Gracias will bless a pilgrimage of 25 kilometres. Some 25,000 people are expected at this event with the procession starting at Mumbai's Cross Maidan and ending at Our Lady of the Mount (Mount Mary's) Basilica.

According to Card Gracias, these "24 hours for the Lord are a time of grace for the Universal Church and for the Church in India and Mumbai."

"They are an opportunity and an invitation to heal the wounds in our lives and rebuild our ties to others," he explained.

"We ought to pay more attention to celebrating this gift, forgiving and asking for forgiveness, including for own omissions."

"Through this initiative, Pope Francis calls up us to participate more actively in God's creative power."

The Lord, the prelate noted, "wants us to seek reconciliation, reconnect with our better part, with others, with the world and with the Lord Himself."