On Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father ushered the Church into Lent by appointing more than 1,000 priests around the world to be Missionaries of Mercy, special envoys of the Lord’s love for mankind. St. Gertrude’s three parish priests are privileged to be among that number: Fr. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Fr. Matthew Carroll, O.P., and Fr. Gabriel Torretta, O.P.
What is a Missionary of Mercy?
In his decree establishing the Year of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), Pope Francis first expressed his desire to commission a cadre of priests to preach the mercy of God throughout the world during this Jubilee Year. “They will be,” he said, “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 ... They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”
At an audience with the Missionaries of Mercy, he explained that he particularly desires the Missionaries to be devoted confessors according to the heart of Christ, urging them through their special labors “to cover the sinner with the garment of mercy, so that he is no longer ashamed and is able to regain the joy of his filial dignity, and is also able to know where it is found again.”
As a particular sign of the Father’s merciful love for all people, he has granted the Missionaries of Mercy the faculty to absolve from four extremely rare sins normally reserved to the Holy See: desecration of the Eucharist, violence against the Pope, a priest who absolves an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment, and a priest who violates the seal of confession. In situations of need, any priest can absolve from any sin, including those listed above, but the Holy Father’s bestowal of these particular privileges on the Missionaries of Mercy emphasizes God’s desire to forgive and heal even those who are farthest from the love of Christ.