QUEZON City, Feb. 9, 2016 – The Holy Father is set to commission four Filipino Franciscans as “Missionaries of Mercy” in a ceremony to be held at the Vatican on Feb. 10, “Ash Wednesday.”
- Fr. Andres Ma. Rañoa, OFM, chaplain, Poor Clare Sisters in Katipunan, Quezon City
- Fr. Pedro Roberto Manansala, OFM, president, Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Novaliches, Quezon City
- Fr. Jerome Ponce, OFM, parish priest, Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya
- Fr. Jose Litigio, OFM, spiritual assistant, Secular Franciscan Order.
According to Fr. Dexter Toledo, provincial secretary of the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM) in the Philippines, the four are among the 1,071 priests worldwide Pope Francis is set to appoint with special authority to pardon sins that carry penalties that ordinarily only the Apostolic See can lift.
He shared that as Missionaries of Mercy, they have the power to forgive fellow priests who have violated the secrecy of confession, and those who have installed bishops without the Pope’s approval.
They may also absolve a priest who has had sexual relations with someone and offers forgiveness for the act.
Moreover, they may hear the confession of those who have desecrated the Eucharist as well as those who have used violence against the Pope.
Order of Penitents
The 1,071 priests will travel the world to facilitate the acquittal of these sins during the ongoing Year of Mercy, especially this Lent.
Toledo noted that the papal commission is a continuation of what Franciscans have always done.
“Remember that we are called an Order of Penitents in the past. Many friars would go to towns and villages to preach about the mercy of God,” he shared.
The commission is an initiative the Holy Father had earlier announced in his “Misericordiae Vultus,” where he outlines the philosophy behind the observance of the Extraordinary Jubilee.
In paragraph 18 of the papal bull, Pope Francis says:
“During Lent of this Holy Year, I intend to send out Missionaries of Mercy. They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer.”
Vatican website www.im.va adds that these Missionaries of Mercy are to be:
- a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness;
- facilitators for all, with no one excluded, of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again;
- guided by the words, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all;
- inspiring preachers of Mercy;
- heralds of the joy of forgiveness;
- welcoming, loving, and compassionate Confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)