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Father Muench Says...

As we begin this special Year of Mercy…

Jan. 6, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

A New Year – a new year that has been dedicated by Pope Francis as a Jubilee Year of Mercy. I begin by wishing all of you a Happy New Year filled with peace and love.  In the spirit of Pope Francis may we all be a more forgiving, loving people this year.  Bringing Mercy into our lives will lead others to become a more merciful, caring people. A Year of Mercy should and must change this world of ours.

So many things that have happened in this world lately which might result in people becoming angry, even hateful.  Pope Francis tells us there is a better way.

He steps up to urge us to understand that the best reaction that will make the world a better place – that is the call to Mercy – love – forgiveness.

As we begin this special year, I want to take this opportunity to ask you to pray in a special way for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  I would like you to join with me as we pray that Pope Francis will be our Holy Father, as Bishop of Rome, for a long time. Pope Francis has already proven to be a unique gift to our Catholic Church.  He has brought to our Church a new recognition of God’s love for all people.  This is a love that is filled with mercy for all people especially those that the world has put on the fringe of life.  We are a better Church because of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has brought to us a new and better understanding of the Second Vatican Council.  As you know I care deeply about the message and reforms of the Council.  Pope Francis continues to bring about reform of what must be changed in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. 

There are many things that should be changed.  In this regard he has boldly proclaimed all that he expects of priests and bishops and cardinals  so that we never forget the Second Vatican Council.  Recently, in a talk to the Vatican Curia he urged them and I am sure he also urges all the rest of us – especially the clergy – to act maturely.  That will certainly produce a bit of discussion.

Let me again remind you of how this all started.  Pope Francis has been a surprised right from the start.  When his name was announced as the newly elected Holy Father – we were all surprised.  I know I had no idea who this Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is – and from Argentina.  He had chosen to put his papacy under the patronage of St. Francis of Assisi.  I was thrilled.  I had recently been fortunate enough to spend a time of retreat for a week in Assisi and had been touched deeply by St. Francis’ message, a message of simplicity of life and concern for the poor.

I remember so well that night of his election when Pope Francis humbly asked all in St. Peter’s Square and all the rest of us throughout the world to pray for him.  Right from the start he asked us to be part of his papacy through our prayers.  That night there was such a moment of silence – a piercing silence – throughout St. Peter’s Square. It was truly a time of quiet prayer.  This was a very spiritual man who, as pope would lead us in holiness.  It was a very humbling gesture.  This new Pope had certainly caught my attention.

I like Pope Francis and am truly impressed with his holiness.  I am so impressed with all he has done so far; I know that here is more to come.  And I am not worried – Pope Francis has put God completely in charge. 

Personally, I want to be around for a while to see how terrific this Catholic Church will be in the future.
Pope Francis loves people and that is the underlying spirit of all he wants for his Church.  He brings something special to our Catholic Church.  I am excited about being a Catholic.

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