April 13, 2018
Papal audience with the Missionaries of Mercy

Pope Francis on April 10, 2018, thanked the Missionaries of Mercy for their service to the Church during the recent Jubilee Year of Mercy – and beyond. His remarks came in an audience with more than 500 members of the group in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, before celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The group met in Rome from April 8 – 11 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

Amongst the participants, Fr. Marcello Ghirlando OFM attended, representing the Diocese of Gozo. The Missionaries of Mercy were priests who received a special commission to forgive sins and offer mercy during the Jubilee (December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.) The Pope extended their authority beyond that time due to their success.

“For me, it is a joy to meet you after the beautiful experience of the Jubilee of Mercy,” the Pope said. “As you well know, at the end of that extraordinary Jubilee your ministry should have come to a conclusion. However, reflecting on the great service you have rendered to the Church, and on how much good you have done and offered to so many believers with your preaching and above all with the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation, I considered it appropriate to extend your term for a little longer”

The Pope explained that he had received “many testimonies” of conversion related to the work of the Missionaries. And through this they serve as a witness to God’s mercy and that the Church “cannot, must not and does not wish to create any barrier or difficulty that may hinder access to the Father’s forgiveness.”

In the sacrament of Reconciliation, the “first initiative is of the Lord, and it is He who precedes us in love”, the Holy Father reminded those present. “When a penitent approaches us, it is important and consoling to recognize that we have before us the first fruit of the meeting that has already taken place with the love of God, who with His grace has opened his heart and made it willing to conversion.

“Our task – and this is a second step – consists of ensuring the action of God’s grace is not in vain, but supporting it and allowing it to come to fruition.”

During his stay in Rome, Fr. Marcello also went to Saccolongo, Padova, to the Provincial Infirmary to pay a visit to Bishop Giovanni Martinelli OFM, Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Tripoli, Libya.