Gentle revolution: Pope wants Year of Mercy to tenderly transform world

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — When Pope
Francis planned the Year of Mercy and the opening of the Holy Door, he
did not mean to give the starting signal for a frenzied wave of pilgrims to

than call to sign up for an Eternal City package tour, the pope is inviting people
to strike out on a yearlong spiritual journey to recognize a loving God who’s already
knocking on their door.

says he wants the Year of Mercy to usher in a “revolution of tenderness.”

people realize “I’m wretched, but God loves me the way I am,” then “I,
too, have to love others the same way,” the pope said in an interview published
just a few days before the Dec. 8 start of the jubilee year.

God’s generous love kick-starts a virtuous circle, which “leads us to
acting in a way that’s more tolerant, patient, tender” and just, he said.

with “Credere,” an
Italian weekly magazine run by the Pauline Fathers, the pope gave an in-depth
look at why he sees such an urgent need to highlight God’s mercy.

world needs to discover that God is father, that there is mercy, that cruelty
is not the path, that condemnation is not the path,” he said.
“Because the church herself sometimes follows a hard line, she falls into
the temptation of following a hard line, into the temptation of underlining
only moral norms, but so many people remain on the outside,” he said.

pope said the thought
of all those people — sinners, the doubtful, the wounded and disenfranchised
— conjured up that iconic image of seeing the church “as a field hospital
after the battle.”

wounded are to be
treated, helped to heal, not subjected to cholesterol tests,” he said, meaning
a too narrow scrutiny of minutiae delays staving off the broader disease of conflict
and indifference. He once
illustrated the same concept by painting a visual image of pastors who
prefer to coif and comb the
wool of the tiny flock in the pews rather than seek the sheep that are outside
in danger or lost.

believe this is the time for mercy. We are all sinners, we all carry burdens
within us. I felt Jesus wants to open the door of his heart,” he said in
the magazine interview.

The opening of the holy doors in Rome
and around the world will be a symbol of how Jesus is opening the door of his

fact, dioceses have been asked to designate and open their own “Door of
Mercy” in a cathedral, an important church or sanctuary. The pope also
will send out from Rome “missionaries of mercy” — priests mandated
to the world’s peripheries to show patience and compassion in their ministry.

gestures suggest the pope still wants people to avoid the expense of travel — like
his post-election suggestion to fans back home in Argentina to give to the poor
the money they would have spent for a trip.  

help people at home feel “just like being there” in Rome, the Vatican
television center will start broadcasting major papal events during the Holy
Year in latest generation “Ultra HD 4K” resolution as well as HD, 3D
and standard definition.

the appropriate displays or TVs, people will be able to watch events with
increased depth and detail, and, for the opening of the Holy Door in St.
Peter’s Basilica Dec. 8, 19 cameras were to be deployed to capture every angle,
including a unique papal point of view.

Vatican also planned to set up 4K screens in a prison in Milan, a hospital in
Rome and possibly in the Holy Land so people who are physically confined could feel
part of the opening ceremony.

the very start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has been showing what the way
of mercy means.

pope’s very first Angelus address and homily in 2013 centered on mercy, as he
explained God always waits for that day of awakening and conversion, then forgives
everything. The real problem is people — not God — who give up on forgiveness,
he said.

mercy changes everything, he said; it “makes the world a little less cold
and more just.”

pope’s own religious vocation is rooted in that concrete experience of mercy,
when he — as a 17-year-old student — walked out of a confessional “different,
changed.” It was the feast of St. Matthew, and like St. Matthew, he was
overcome, feeling “God looked at me with mercy” and said,
“Follow me.”

God knows he’s a sinner, but embraces him anyway lies at the heart of Pope
Francis’ ministry and his motto: “By showing mercy, by choosing,” based
on “The Call of St. Matthew.”

said in the magazine interview that one Friday of every month during the Year
of Mercy “I will make a different gesture” that shows God’s mercy. He
had asked the world’s young people to rediscover the corporal and spiritual
works of mercy, like feeding the hungry and counsel the doubtful, and choose
one to practice each month as they prepare for World Youth Day in July.

“Credere” interview reveals that the pope has been championing a more
merciful church for decades.

a small group discussion during the 1994 ordinary Synod of Bishops on
consecrated life and its role in the church and the world, then then-Auxiliary
Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said it was necessary “to
institute a revolution of tenderness,” to which one synod father countered,
“with reasonable explanations,” how “it wasn’t good to use this
kind of language.”

now two decades later as leader of the universal church, the opening of the
Year of Mercy may be his moment to set that revolution into motion.

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