VATICAN CITY — The Year of Mercy brought more than 20 million pilgrims to Rome, but for Pope Francis, the idea always was that the celebration of God's mercy would be local: Have people experience God's love in their parishes and send them out into the world to commit random acts of mercy.
VATICAN CITY — Following Christ the King, whose regal power is love and mercy, means the whole Church and each Christian must "follow his way of tangible love," Pope Francis said.
Celebrating the feast of Christ the King Nov. 20 and officially closing the extraordinary jubilee celebration of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis declared, "we have received mercy in order to be merciful."
On a warm, late fall morning, St. Peter's Square was filled with an estimated 70,000 people for the Mass, which was concelebrated by the new cardinals Pope Francis had created the previous day.
VATICAN CITY — Everyone experiences doubts about the faith at times — "I have" many times, Pope Francis said — but such doubts can be "a sign that we want to know God better and more deeply."
"We do not need to be afraid of questions and doubts because they are the beginning of a path of knowledge and going deeper; one who does not ask questions cannot progress either in knowledge or in faith," the pope said Nov. 23 at his weekly general audience.
The U.S. bishops' website doesn't hold back when addressing the topic of mercy.
"We say that God is compassionate, but we ignore the poor. We say that God loves us and has mercy on us, but we hold grudges against our friends. Our actions need to authentically reflect God's mercy."
Now that's a challenge, highlighted during the extraordinary jubilee celebration of the Year of Mercy, which closed Nov. 20.
VATICAN CITY -- Acknowledging and sharing God's mercy is a permanent part of the Christian life, so initiatives undertaken during the special Year of Mercy must continue, Pope Francis said.
"Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church," the pope wrote in an apostolic letter, "Misericordia et Misera," ("Mercy and Misery"), which he signed Nov. 20 at the end of the Year of Mercy. The Vatican released the text the next day.