Pope Francis nominates 1,000 ‘super confessors’

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Pope Francis has dispatched more than 1,000 'super confessors' all over the world

They were given a special license to forgive grave sins that only the Pope or top Church officials can usually absolve

CNN —  

Pope Francis has dispatched more than 1,000 “super confessors” all over the world.

The “missionaries of mercy,” as the Church officially calls them, are nominated by the Pope himself, who created this new office specifically for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends in November.

They are priests who have been given a special license, for the duration of the Jubilee year, to forgive grave sins that usually only the Pope or top Church officials can pardon.

“This is a very strong signal from the Pope,” says Mauro Cozzoli, priest and professor of moral theology at Pontifical Lateran University in Rome – which Pope John Paul II dubbed the “University of the Pope.” “He is saying that God’s love is stronger than any sin.”

Cozzoli says that these confessors are on a global mission to open the Church’s door to repentant sinners and to Catholics who, after turning their backs on the Church, are willing to come back. Thanks to their special powers, they can also absolve fellow priests from serious transgressions.

The grave sins that the “super confessors” can now forgive, he explained, include violence against the Pope; confessors violating the secrecy that protects confessions; unauthorized ordination of a bishop; and defiling consecrated bread and wine.

“Never forget that before us there is not the sin, but a repentant sinner … a person who wishes to be accepted and forgiven,” Pope Francis said according to a transcript of a speech he gave to some some 700 missionaries at a ceremony Tuesday, and later published by the Holy See.

He exhorted the confessors not to be judgmental, show an attitude of superiority or be too harsh.

“It is not with the cudgel of judgment that we succeed in bringing the lost sheep back to the fold,” he said.

Abortion is included in the category of serious transgressions, but last year the Pope gave ordinary priests the power to forgive repentant women for this sin for the duration of the Jubilee year.

Some of the missionaries, who come from different parts of the world, will carry out their mission in unusual ways or remote regions. One of them will tour Australia in camper, visiting 27 communities. Another one, according to Agence France Presse, is expected to reach Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic.