Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Jubilee of Mercy

This week, Pope Francis despatched over 1,000 "Missionaries of Mercy," specially selected priests who have been vested with the Pope's supposed authority to forgive "grave sins". (Read about it here.) This unusual step was taken in line with the "Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy," which Francis proclaimed, and which began in November 2015 and will continue until November of this year.

Filipino Evangelicals should be aware of these actions taken by the Roman Catholic Church (hereafter RCC), if for no other reason than we all have family members, relatives, and friends who are Catholic and who will certainly need to hear the truth about the Jubilee.

The Jubilee of Mercy

The Jubilee was launched on November 20, 2015 with the opening of the holy doors of the major basilicas of Rome. Both the Pontiff Emeritus Benedict and the current Pope were present at the opening of the holy doors at St. Peter's.

The Church claims that the faithful can earn indulgences by passing through the holy doors, provided that they have fulfilled the usual prerequisites. According to Francis, "the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."

Other special provisions have been made during the Jubilee. This includes the celebration of special 24-hour penance services during the Lenten Season this year (which began on February 10 and will run until March 24). In addition, all priests have been authorized to grant absolution for abortion, which is usually reserved for bishops and priests who have been authorized by their bishop. Finally, as we've already mentioned, Missionaries of Mercy will be available in every diocese to forgive those who have committed the so-called "grave sins".

(Grave Sins are special-case sins that can only be forgiven by the Pope himself or a top Church official. These sins include defiling the bread and wine of Communion, violating confessional secrecy, and plotting to kill a pope.)

False Mercy Vs. Real Mercy

There's so much false teaching wrapped up in the RCC's actions that it would take a book to address all of these (Mike Gendron comes to mind). But there's just one thing I hope we can take away from this as we engage our Roman Catholic friends.

God's mercy doesn't require all the procedures, rituals, and middle-men that the RCC seeks to impose. Rather, God's mercy draws sinners directly to Christ, the only Mediator whom God has provided for us (1 Tim. 2:5).

God's mercy is not partial, or require constant confession, sacraments, and indulgences that are not only useless, but a deadly deception that turns people away from the one, true Way to salvation. Rather, God's mercy provides complete forgiveness to the sinner, through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

God's mercy doesn't minimize sin by euphemizing or excusing it. It doesn't equivocate when it comes to warning people about the lethal consequences of sin (Rom. 6:3). It doesn't create a false distinction between "moral" and "venial" sins. Rather, God's mercy "speaks the truth in love," by lovingly telling people that one cannot cling to sin and cling to Christ at the same time.

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