Catholics told to gear up for ‘mercy revolution’

Undertake almsgiving, care for the needy and forgive during Year of Mercy.

Kochi: (UCAN)  Catholics are encouraged to bring about a "mercy revolution" by undertaking daily almsgiving, caring for the needy and forgiving as a way to meaningfully observe the Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis.

The year is an opportunity to transform "our church into a more compassionate and merciful" one, said a statement from India's Latin-rite bishops' conference, signed by its president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai. Most Catholic dioceses in India belong to the Latin rite. 

Catholics are asked to "rediscover" works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the needy and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

"One small act of mercy daily will bring about a mercy revolution in India," said the circular addressed to all bishops, clergy and laypeople.

Catholics are also urged to forgive to help find "strength to embrace God's mercy."

Lent 2016 should be considered with "new fervor" and more reading and meditation of scriptures, the circular said.

Pope Francis announced in April an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy that would begin Dec. 8 when Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception and conclude next Nov. 20 on the feast of Christ the King.

As part of the special year, Francis announced a plan to send out "missionaries of mercy," who would be granted the special rights to absolve sins that would normally fall to the Holy See.

Bishops can recommend some priests and "some dioceses have already done so," said Father Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary general of the Latin-rite bishops' conference. However, he did not know the number of priests from India.

Father Alathara told ucanews.com that dioceses are also asked to create and manage websites to disseminate the message of mercy through events, resources, information, and documentaries.

Each diocese is left to design its own program because local dioceses know what is best for them, he said. "It is not proper to suggest programs from a national level as the situations of each diocese are different."

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