Pope Emphasizes Mercy in discourse on Sacrament of Reconciliation

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday spoke to participants of a “Course on the Internal Forum,” which deals with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the ministry of Confessors.
In his discourse, Pope Francis spoke about how the annual course helps “the Church and Confessors to better carry out the ministry of mercy, which is so important.”
He reminded priests that the Holy Spirit is the “protagonist” of the ministry of reconciliation, calling on them to “always be ‘men of the Holy Spirit.’” As such, priests must welcome penitents not with the attitude of a judge, but with “the charity of God, with the love a father who sees the son returning, the shepherd who has found the lost sheep.”
For this reason, the Pope said, priests are called to be generous in making themselves available for Confession. “We must never forget,” he said, “that the faithful often have difficulty approaching the Sacrament of Confession.” And so, priests must work hard to encourage people to draw near to the Sacrament “of mercy and forgiveness.”
Here, the Holy Father said, priests must avoid both rigorism and laxity. “Confession is not a court of condemnation, but an experience of mercy and forgiveness!”

Finally, recognising the difficulties encountered in Confession, Pope Francis encouraged priests to take particular care in the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In particular, he said “it’s good that in every parish, the faithful know when they can find priests” available to hear Confessions.

How one becomes a priest At the General Audience the Pope speaks about the Sacrament of Holy Orders

2014-03-26 L’Osservatore Romano

One enters the priesthood only through the Lord’s initiative. “He calls each of those whom he wills to become priests”. The Sacrament of Holy Orders was the focus of Pope Francis’ catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 26 March, in St Peter’s Square. The following is a translation of the Pope’s address to the faithful, which was delivered in Italian.

‘Punish’ Bishops who Ignore Protection Rules

by Michael Kelly – The Irish Catholic – March 27, 2014

The appointment by Pope Francis of abuse survivor and prominent campaigner Marie Collins has been welcomed as a sign of the Vatican’s serious commitment to make the voice of those who suffered abuse central in decision-making.

The Vatican has announced that Mrs Collins will serve as a member of the newly-established Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described Mrs Collins as “a person of great integrity and determination.

“I am grateful to her for accepting the appointment, knowing that over the years she had many reasons to have felt frustration and disappointment by the failings and the slowness of the Catholic Church in Ireland in addressing child safeguarding concerns,” the archbishop said.

Ukrainian Catholic Priests flee Crimea after Russian Takeover

The Tablet

Several Catholic priests in Ukraine fled the country’s Black Sea region of Crimea after receiving threatening phone calls and messages from local pro-Russian armed militia and being abducted for several days.

“The situation is very dangerous, we all hope that Western political forces will stop (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” said Fr Bronislaw Bernacki, Roman Catholic Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol.

With the growing numbers of Russian troops and local pro-Russian militia, pressure has mounted on people in Crimea who did not recognise the Moscow’s sudden takeover of the Crimea peninsula, including Ukrainian Roman and Greek Catholic priests in the region.

Prominent Cardinals Oppose Reform-minded Kasper on Treatment of Divorced and Remarried Catholics

The Tablet

27 March 2014 12:12 by Elena Curti, Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Michael Sean Winters

Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow communion for remarried divorcees was given a negative reception from most of his confreres at last month’s consistory according to an Italian journalist.

In an article for the Turin daily, La Stampa, last Monday, Marco Tosatti says that Cardinal Kasper’s plan was greeted with a storm of criticism. In his address to the consistory on 22 February, the German cardinal argued that Catholic divorcees who remarry should, after a period of atonement, be allowed to seek re-admittance to the sacraments.

Tosatti claims the vast majority of cardinals who spoke in the subsequent discussion criticised the proposal.

Pope Francis Holy Land Pilgrimage Schedule Released

(Vatican Radio) The official programme of the Pilgrimage of Pope Francis to the Holy Land was released on Thursday at a Press Conference at the offices of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Holy Father will visit three countries: Jordan, the State of Palestine, and Israel. The Holy Father will celebrate Mass in all three countries.
In a statement, the Director of the Holy See Press Office Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the publication of the programme demonstrated the preparation of the trip is “continuing as planned.”
When asked about the current strike of diplomatic personnel in the Israeli foreign ministry, Father Lombardi said that he hoped they would soon be able to resume the “formal contacts” with the authorities responsible for the proper preparation for the visit of the Pope.

It is a long path the Church must complete’

The Irish Catholic

Q. Holy Father, every once in a while you call those who ask you for help. Sometimes they don’t believe you.

A. Yes, it has happened. When one calls, it is because he wants to speak, to pose a question, to ask for counsel. As a priest in Buenos Aires it was more simple. And, it has remained a habit for me. A service. I feel it inside. Certainly, now it is not that easy to do due to the quantity of people who write me.

Q. And, is there a contact, an encounter that you remember with particular affection?

A. A widowed woman, aged 80, who had lost a child. She wrote me. And, now I call her every month. She is happy. I am a priest. I like it.

A married man and a deacon of the Church

The Irish Catholic

The Rev. Mr Andrew Hegarty, permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Armagh will never forget the weekend that changed his life and that of Mary his wife of almost 45 years forever.

It was March 2008 and he and Mary were having a rare weekend break in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo.

“We were leaving Sunday morning Mass and I picked up a leaflet. It gave details about the Permanent Diaconate and I was magnetised by it.”

Within days Deacon Andrew (Andy to all who know him) a father of five adult children had e-mailed Fr. John Gates, the director of formation for the Permanent Diaconate in the archdiocese and had received an information pack in the post.