04/10/2018, 14.49
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Pope: the priest must not 'blame' or 'cross examine' the penitent

Francis meets and celebrates Mass with the Missionaries of Mercy. Mercy frees us from sin restores dignity and "infuses the certainty that the love with which God loves defeats every form of solitude and abandonment".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Mercy frees us from sin restores dignity and "infuses the certainty that the love with which God loves defeats every form of solitude and abandonment". What’s more, the priest, who is "God’s collaborator " in bestowing mercy must not 'blame' or 'cross examine'  the penitent, but encourage him to look to the future "with new eyes", with trust and commitment, in the awareness that the Lord "will not never abandon anyone: His love will always be there, closer, greater and more faithful than any abandonment ".

The "service" of Mercy was at the center of the meeting that Pope Francis had this morning with over 550 Missionaries of Mercy from the 5 continents, with whom he then celebrated Mass in Saint Peter’s.

Francis first of all reminded these Missionaries, constituted on the occasion of the extraordinary Jubilee, that they are “God’s collaborators" as bearers "in the name of Christ" of the message of "making peace with God. Our apostolate is a call to seek and receive. the forgiveness of the Father. As we can see, God needs men who bring his forgiveness and mercy into the world ". And "this responsibility placed in our hands requires a style of life consistent with the mission we have received".

Secondly, remembering that we are all sinners, we must always start from a fixed point: God treated me with mercy. This is the key to becoming God's collaborators. One experiences mercy and is then transformed into a minister of mercy. In short, ministers should not put themselves above the others as if they were judges of their sinful brethern ". A true missionary of mercy knows that "God has chosen me; God trusts me; God has put his trust in me by calling me, despite being a sinner, to be his collaborator to make it real, effective and let his mercy touch others".

The Missionary, then, knows that "reconciliation is not, as we often think, a private initiative of our own or the fruit of our commitment. If this were the case, we would fall into that form of neo-Pelagianism which tends to overestimate man and his projects, forgetting that the Savior is God and not us. We must always reiterate this, but especially regarding the sacrament of Reconciliation, that the first initiative belongs to the Lord; it is He who precedes us in love ".

Therefore, "when a penitent approaches us, it is important and consoling to recognize that we have before us the first fruit of the meeting that has already happened with the love of God, who with his grace has opened his heart and made it available for conversion ".

Thus "there is no need to make people feel ashamed of those who have already recognized their sin and know that they are wrong; it is not necessary to inquire, where the grace of the Father has already intervened; it is not allowed to violate the sacred space of a person in his relationship with God ".

"Our task - and this is a second step - consists in not rendering vain the action of God's grace, but supporting it and allowing it to come to fruition. Sometimes, unfortunately, it can happen that the priest, with his behavior, instead of approaching the penitent, dismiss him. For example, in order to defend the integrity of the Gospel ideal, the steps that a person is making day after day are neglected ".

Mercy, "which requires listening, allows then to guide the steps of the reconciled sinner. God frees from fear, anguish, shame, violence. Forgiveness is really a form of liberation to restore joy and the meaning of life ".

"It is this typical certainty of the love that we are called to support in those who approach the confessional, to give them the strength to believe and hope. The ability to be able to start over again, despite everything, because God takes each time by the hand and pushes to look forward. Mercy takes the hand, and infuses the certainty that the love with which God loves defeats every form of solitude and abandonment. The Missionaries of Mercy are called to be interpreters and witnesses of this experience, which inserts in a community that welcomes everyone and always without any distinction, that sustains anyone in need and difficulties, who lives in communion as a source of life ".

In the homily of the Mass later celebrated with the Missionaries, Francis, he commented on the passage from the Gospel of John (3.7b-15) which he said reveals two aspects: the Gospel recalls that those who are called to bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ must himself, in the first person, “be born from above” .

“This means truly leaving the primacy to the Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit in our life. Pay attention: it is not a matter of becoming [“invaded”] priests, as if you were depositories of some extraordinary charisma. No. Ordinary priests. Simple, gentle, balanced, but capable of letting yourselves be constantly regenerated by the Spirit, docile to His strength, interiorly free – above all by themselves – because they are moved by the “wind” of the Spirit Who blows where He wants”.

“The second indication concerns serving the community: to be priests capable of “raising” in the “desert” of the world the sign of Salvation, that is, the Cross of Christ,” as a source of conversion and renewal for the whole community and for the world itself (see Jn 3: 14-15). In particular, I would like to stress that the Lord Who died and rose again is the force that creates communion in the Church and, through the Church, in the whole of humanity”.

“In fact, both the Church and the world today have a particular need of mercy because the unity desired by God in Christ prevails over the negative action of the evil one who takes advantage of many things that are in themselves good to be misused, in order to divide rather than unite. We are convinced that “unity is superior to conflict” (Evangelii Gaudium, 228), but we also know that without mercy, this principle does not have the strength to be implemented concretely in life and history”.

 

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