Pope to Missionary Priests: “Every missionary is called to remember their own sinful existence and humbly place themselves as a channel of God’s mercy”

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Pope Francis met with about 700 priests out of the 1,000 priests from around the globe, who have been chosen as Missionaries of Mercy. They gathered in an ornate hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican where the Pontiff addressed them, stressing the need to show the tenderness of God’s love to those who confess to them during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The pope lamented that many people abandon confession because priests scold them or pry for embarrassing details.

He recalled the story in the Bible where Noah, after the flood, filled with excitement slumped in a drunken stupor and left himself naked in a state of near-unconsciousness. While his son Ham made mockery of him, Shem and Japheth, his other sons covered him up with a blanket.

Stressing the importance of the role of a confessor, Pope Francis said, “Before us there is a nude person, with their weaknesses and their limits, with the shame of being a sinner.”

It’s not easy to come before another man, a representative of God, and confess one’s sins. Shame he noted “is an intimate feeling that affects one’s personal life and requires an attitude of respect and encouragement on the part of the confessor.”

When speaking with those who come to the confessional, as priests and as missionaries “we are not called to judge with a sense of superiority, as if we were immune to sin,” he said, but are instead asked to take on the attitude of Shem and Japheth, protected their father from shame.

“To be a confessor according to the heart of Christ means to cover the sinner with the blanket of mercy, so that they are no longer ashamed and can recover the joy of their filial dignity.”

He urged the missionaries to always call to mind that it’s not sin that sits in front of them in the confessional, but someone who is filled with remorse and shame; a repentant sinner.

The Missionaries of Mercy selected from every continent will be given their official mandate in a special ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica on Ash Wednesday. They’ve been given the power to absolve extremely grave sins in cases especially reserved for the Holy See.

Though there are several such sins, the Holy See has clarified that the faculties of the Missionaries of Mercy are “limited exclusively” to just four.

Namely, they are: Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose; the use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff; the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment (“thou shall not commit adultery”) and a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

Admonishing them he said, “The Church is a Mother because she always creates new children in faith; the Church is a Mother because she nourishes this faith; and the Church is a Mother because she offers the forgiveness of God, regenerating to a new life, the fruit of conversion,” he continued.

Speaking about the heart of the sinner who wants to turn to God, the Holy Father said, “The heart turns to God acknowledging the evil which has been done, but with the hope of obtaining pardon. This desire is reinforced when the person decides in his heart to change his life and does not want to sin again. It is the moment when we trust the mercy of God, and you have complete confidence you will be understood, forgiven and supported by Him.”

No matter what the sin is that’s been confessed, “Every missionary is called to remember their own sinful existence and humbly place themselves as a channel of God’s mercy,” he added.

He concluded his address by reassuring the missionaries of his prayers and pleaded on the Blessed Virgin to intercede on their behalf.



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  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    “He recalled the story in the Bible where Noah, after the flood, filled with excitement slumped in a drunken stupor and left himself naked in a state of near-unconsciousness.”
    Why, exactly, is being naked so dreadfully shameful? Why is it that the very first thing the mythical Adam and Eve were taught after gaining knowledge of good and evil, is that it was shameful to be naked? Why is all of God’s creation “good,” except the human body? What is it about the human body that God finds so shameful, that He must take obsessive interest in what we do without clothes on? (Isn’t it possible, even probable, that this is the “good stuff” for which sex-starved priests eagerly await each Confession?). If God exists and He can’t hear me unless I go through a priest, how can He be all-powerful? I feel that confession should be to whoever you hurt and all-powerful beings, one would assume, can’t be hurt.
    Here’s a man, Noah, who, if you believe in the mythical flood, has spent a considerable time with nothing but close family members and seasick animals. In this case it is apparently only his sons who see him naked – so what’s the big deal? I always thought this was one of the dumbest stories in the bible; dumber than talking snakes or donkeys. I’ve seen my dad naked, and my son has seen me naked – does that mean something sinful and shameful occurred? Only to a perverted mind could that be the case.
    Of course this all took place several years after the so-called flood. Reestablishing grape vines when everything is dead, and dealing with hungry animals that have nothing to eat except each other, must have been quite a task, so that first casket of wine must have been really special. It could have been even more special. Bible God could have chosen that time to “save’ mankind from original sin, but He chose not to. He already knew what original sin caused his creation to do – that’s why He killed them all off in the first place; but He didn’t bother to fix the problem; just emptied the petri dish and started anew with a sample from the last experiment to seed the next, including the dreadful original sin of curiosity. How easy would it have been to send Jesus at that time, when there were just a handful of people, and do the whole salvation thing then?
    He gave Noah’s family a few rules. Because they were still “infected” with original sin, that didn’t work, as one might expect. Then through the mythical Moses, during the mythical Exodus, He hands down more rules, 613 of them to be precise – but it still doesn’t work. Finally, He sends Himself as Himself to sacrifice Himself to Himself, to relieve us of a condition He placed on us in the first place – and it still doesn’t fix the problem. Apparently, even Jesus didn’t really fix anything. We still have to believe, say and do the right things or we aren’t saved at all. Original sin is only defeated by those who follow the RCCs teachings (which has surely benefited from this exclusivity).
    If Paradise was a corporation, God would surely have been demoted by now, having failed to achieve His objective – which apparently is to have everyone worship Him in abject subjugation. His quality of work does not seem to justify such adoration. Many if not most of His works in the OT are appalling, and then in the NT, He creates eternal torment after sending Himself to “save” us! That’s the good news. Now instead of sleeping in Sheol, we go to eternal torment in Hell right after death if we don’t believe, say and do the right things, and yet the Church tells us that our situation has somehow improved. Salvation is extremely selective and for some odd reason, Bible God decided that in the entire world, only one organization would hold the keys. And what has been the practice of that organization: Its mantra as seen in the book of Amos, for example, is clear: “The beatings will commence until morale improves!”

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