When the year of mercy was gradually coming to an end, many Catholics felt uneasy. This is because they thought that the abundant mercy of God, in no distant time, will be substituted with its divine justice. Worse still, as a result of procrastination, some could not make reparations for their sins, especially those sins authorised to be forgiven by priests within the year of mercy. Others due to culpable ignorance, could not pass through the door of mercy during the year. Hence, the regrettable moment of the exclamation; HAD I KNOWN… filled the hearts of some concerned faithful.
Nevertheless, the declaration of the Pope on the issue of abortion and its subsequent modality for forgiveness seems to have offered hope to all the faithful, especially some of my friends specified above. According to him (Pope Francis), in his Apostolic Letter; Misericordia et Misera meaning Mercy with Misery, “the Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life.” “Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,”. Permit me to say immediately that the interpretation of this definite and universal declaration is left for the Magisterium (that is the bishops and cardinals) while some renowned Catholic theologians stands tall to defend it.
Besides many have variously reflected on it posthumously and severally thrust into the limelight unofficially, what they thought would’ve been meant by the Supreme Pontiff and what they feel could be the resultant effect. For some, the Catholic Church under the auspices of the Pope, can now feel with human weaknesses in this era of modernity crisis. In my mother tongue, they would say it is a period when “mmuo kwere ekwe, mana anu ahu esighi ike”. For others, it is a salvific moment to, more and more experience the life of God in us, and for the unfortunate few, this declaration creates an enabling environment to commit and confess as much as possible.
Against this backdrop, I humbly wish to make some clarifications as much as I know, without the intention of moving contrary to the doctrines of our Fathers in faith. These clarifications have become very necessary due to certain undeniable realities that I have been privileged to witness after several pastoral experiences amidst well meaning boys and girls. Some have sincerely lamented how they have severed themselves from the Eucharistic Lord as they could not approach the Bishop in order to receive absolution for committing abortion. Indications therefore emerge that in such pitiable situation, conscientious Christians cannot receive Holy Communion for a very long time. I call them conscientious, in order to distinguish them from those who have no regards to the gravity of such heinous crime, and continue to commune erroneously with the Eucharistic Lord, thereby incurring death to their souls. Worse still, It has been gathered through the grape vine that many of the Catholic boys and girls now finds it difficult to identify with the Church’s spiritual exercises. This is hinged on the fact that their irreconcilable poor state of morality now threaten their worthiness before the Holy of Holies. Hence, they would prefer a noisy world to supply for that inner peace of mind which no amount of pleasure in the world can give. Thus, they forget that in the absence of silence, words rich in content cannot exist.
Well, for the sake of brevity, I wish to maintain that the apostolic letter, Misericordia et Misera, is a child of circumstance, in a time like this, as a rescue mission among us the young men and women of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. This mission will become a living reality if and only if we bring out, the disposition that it deserves. If and only if we resolve to behold the Sacrament of reconciliation as an indispensable ladder to holiness and perfection. Even though our human weakneses may not allow us to experience such perfection, let us not sit on our laurels for God, who is not unaware of our efforts, humble and contrite hearts, will cover us with the mantle of righteousness to make a sinful man pleasing to Him. Let us therefore, cooperate with the grace of God, lending credence to the Psalmist which says “To you all flesh will come with its burden of sin. Too heavy for us our offences, but you wipe them away”.
Caution; as the year of mercy has come to an end, the job of mercy has just begun!!!