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Philippines

Pope appoints Filipino priests as missionaries of mercy

Francis calls on four churchmen to be heralds of the joy of forgiveness

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Pope appoints Filipino priests as missionaries of mercy

Pope Francis has appointed four Filipino priests to become missionaries of mercy. (Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP)

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A northern Philippine archdiocese has announced that four of its clergy have been appointed missionaries of mercy by Pope Francis according to his apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera published by the Vatican at the end of the special Year of Mercy in 2016.

Pope Francis personally appointed Fathers Allan Morris Abua, Danille Chad Pecson, Matt Jason Molina and Roy Joel Roscal — all from Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese in Pangasinan province — to preach the message of mercy to the Catholic Church in the Philippines.

The pope also granted them with faculties to forgive sins normally reserved for the pope as supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church.

Certain sins are reserved for the Apostolic See such as abortion, desecration of the host, assaulting the pope and breaking the seal of confession.

“The title [Misericordia et Misera] was a phrase used by St. Augustine in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery. It would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful or apt way of expressing the mystery of God’s love when it touches the sinner: the two of them alone remained: mercy with misery,” wrote the pope in his letter.

Missionaries of mercy are supposed to be a “living sign of the Father’s welcome to those in search of forgiveness.” They are tasked to be inspiring preachers of mercy and compassionate confessors who are attentive to the difficult situation of each penitent.

The recent appointments have brought the number of missionaries of mercy in the Philippines to 11 since the pope began the appointments in February 2016.

Diocesan bishops initiate the selection process of the missionaries by paying special attention to the sacrament of confession.

“Every missionary must have a letter of recommendation from his local ordinary or religious superior which testifies to the suitability of the priest for this particular mission,” says the Vatican guidelines.

The guidelines have also stated that those appointed must be guided by the words, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.”

Pope Francis had called for a “culture of mercy” in 2015 where Catholics were to look at one another with sympathy and unity in the sufferings of the poor.

“Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father’s love, which Jesus sought to reveal by his entire life ... Even at the last moment of his earthly life, as he was being nailed to the cross, Jesus spoke words of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”, said the pope in his letter.

Meanwhile, fellow priests and parishioners of the new missionaries have given prayers and support for their new appointment.

“Warmest congratulations to our dear brother priests appointed by His Holiness as missionaries of mercy. God indeed is mercy!” said Father Freddie Penoliar.

“God continues to build his church in the world, where the harvest is great but the laborers are few. Thank you, Lord, for another four laborers,” said parishioner Angeles Airoso on social media.

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