This came in as a comment on another post, but I thought I might highlight it so as to clear up some things:
“Father, regardless of whether your invitation from Pope Francis to be a Missionary of Mercy continues, you and all other good priests will always be Our Lord’s Missionaries of Mercy having left the world behind to mediate between God and man for the sake of our salvation. Thank you for all you do.
“I found it unsettling that Pope Francis set a small number of priests apart from their ordained brothers by calling them to be Missionaries of Mercy because it implied, or so it seemed to me, that bringing God’s mercy to people was something new – a new initiative of the pope being trialled by a small number of priests before being rolled out to the Church at large. Catechised and practising Catholics know better – they know well the merciful nature of the priesthood – but the uncatechised and non-practising don’t and they are the majority.
“It follows that if most people are led to believe that the priesthood up until the advent of Pope Francis was not merciful (uncaring and harsh), they will also accept his labelling of priests as rigid when living their priesthood in accordance with tradition (in continuity with the past), and subsequently agree with the German and Amazon Synods that change (discontinuity with the past) is needed for a caring, merciful Church to come into being.
“It’s no use worrying about this but we do need to be aware and prepared, each faithful member of the Church living his or her vocation better than ever before as we face a crisis greater than ever before.”
This is an excellent comment. I would feel the same about it if it were not for a few other considerations. But I must say, your Catholic sensus fidelium is quite fine tuned. So, thank you for that.
I myself have been ranting on charismatics calling themselves charismatics, as if they had something to brag about or as if no one else was moved by the Holy Spirit or was devoid of the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity after Baptism or even after Confirmation. Who are they to have total say-so over whithersoever the Holy Spirit may wish to bring anyone?
And for that matter, what about those “Marian Priests”, of which I’ve been called one throughout the decades, I think just because I might promote the Rosary or Brown Scapular or mention my pilgrimages to Fatima and Lourdes and Guadalupe and to Our Lady of Revelation near Tre Fontane on the peripheries of Rome, and so many others? But must not all priests be “Marian”? Does not the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God take on all priests as a special project – we being so needy – so that we might be more apt instruments of her own Divine Son, the High Priest, Christ Jesus?
So, as you can see, I get your train of thought. But there’s more to the Missionaries of Mercy, and there’s more to some being appointed in the Church for different tasks.
For instance, Jesus did NOT mandate all his disciples to be exorcists, and the Church has never mandated all to be exorcists.
For instance, and more to the point, there is supposed to be a Penitentiary in every diocese who takes care of reserved sins in whatever way he is delegated to do that by the bishop. “Reserved sins.” That’s an ancient practice. No innovation with that. Some the Penitentiary can do. For others that are further reserved to the Apostolic See or even to the Holy Father, he must arrange for conditions for the absolution through the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome. I don’t know the history of Canon Law, but this kind of thing has been going on for very many centuries indeed.
The Missionary of Mercy different from other priests has the faculties directly from the Holy Father to absolve some of that which is otherwise reserved to Rome. This is most encouraging to priests who – albeit through their own fault – find themselves in dire situations of risking their eternal salvation. And, yes, the extra faculties deal mostly but not exclusively with priests.
I cannot go into it, obviously – nor would you expect me to – but this Missionary of Mercy thing has made a significant change for the better in the life of the Church. I don’t get how some who are not priests and not Missionaries of Mercy can make the comment that it is all ridiculous. I’m not saying you’re saying that. You’re not. I know what you’re saying. But there have been many who speak out of turn as it’s just not in the range of their knowledge. It’s just cool to bash Missionaries of Mercy. Some for quite a while even insisted that no Missionary of Mercy is a validly ordained priest! They will have to deal with our Lord. I forgive them. Such irony.
UPDATE: Having said all that, you may well be right that it will all work out as you say, and we Missionaries of Mercy are simply being played. That’s why I’ve asked about “future developments.” If that means that in future the Missionaries of Mercy will be asked to host dialoguing events about doctrine and morality and liturgy and all sorts of Church discipline, then, well… Yikes!