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A Time For Mercy, For Born And Unborn

December 8, 2015 Frontpage No Comments

By FR. FRANK PAVONE

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life. To follow the connections between the Jubilee of Mercy and the pro-life movement, see www.JubileeOfMercy.net.)

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As the Jubilee Year of Mercy begins, we are living at a special moment for the Church and the world, and mercy is as needed today as it has ever been. The world is suffering from the grief and fear that stem from terrorism, while at the same time too many public officials are blind to the evils of the abortion industry, in which the key player is Planned Parenthood, and so countless lives continue to be taken and countless lives devastated by abortion.
We need the mercy of God. It is time for the doors of mercy to open even wider for the People of God. Jesus Christ himself is the mercy of God. To believe in him is to believe in mercy, to witness to him is to witness to mercy. And the Church wants us to become experts in this.
That is why Pope Francis has declared this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, to be observed from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016.
On April 11, 2015, the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, the Pope issued the document explaining the purpose and vision of this special Holy Year.
Pope Francis points out that mercy is seen in God’s actions, and must be seen in ours. He points out that Psalm 146 “attests to the concrete signs of his mercy: ‘He secures justice for the oppressed; he gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous’. . . . In short, the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child” (n. 6).
Later in the document, naturally, the Pope points out how this is fulfilled in Jesus’ own description of his ministry as one that will “proclaim liberty to the captives.”
If we are to live out mercy, therefore, the Pope explains that we are to “look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society: fringes modern society itself creates. How many uncertain and painful situations there are in the world today! How many are the wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is muffled and drowned out. . . . Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!” (n. 15).
This intersects perfectly with our commitment to rescue children from the violence of abortion. As Pope Francis had pointed out in Evangelii Gaudium, the most defenseless of all are unborn children. Certainly they live in “fringes modern society itself creates” by its false and destructive declaration that they are not persons, that they do not deserve the protection of the law.
Living mercy means seeing their misery and speaking up for them. Death is a result of sin. Mercy not only forgives our sin, it rescues us from death. The Holy Year, the Pope writes, is “to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society . . . to restore dignity to all those from whom it has been robbed” (n. 16).
Court decisions regarding abortion — such as Roe v. Wade — and the actions of the abortion industry that implement those policies, rob dignity from the children in the womb and create new forms of slavery.
So does the ideology and violent activity of ISIS and other terrorist groups. Mercy does not mean tolerating them; it means stopping them. It means rescuing their victims from the new forms of slavery that they try to impose on the world.
We all need mercy, because we are all affected by terrorism and we are all affected by abortion. These twin forms of violence in our society create grief that extends far beyond their immediate and direct victims, and affect relationships within families and between nations.
These evils can ultimately be overcome only by the mercy of God, which takes shape, as Pope Francis explains, in our own practice of the works of mercy throughout this year and throughout our lives.

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