On Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis sent out over 1000 priests as Missionaries of Mercy, including 125 from the United States. Of these men, 18 are Dominican Friars from the Province of St. Joseph! BlackFriars spoke with Vocations Director Fr. Benedict Croell, O.P., about this initiative to bring sinners back to the Father through Jesus Christ.
Why did Pope Francis call for priests to become Missionaries of Mercy?
The Pope’s idea is to get people back into the Church. He’s mandating Missionaries of Mercy throughout the world to preach a message of conversion and to hear confessions. Just by making ourselves available—my experience has been—if we preach God’s mercy, people will go to Confession.
How can Missionaries of Mercy help those suffering from the sin of abortion?
In the United States, just about every diocese has already given priests faculties to absolve the sin of abortion, but, as Missionaries of Mercy, we might draw out those who may otherwise not have come. There are many people who are suffering the post-trauma of participating in an abortion. Some of them might feel so terrible that they may be afraid to approach the sacrament of Confession or even enter a church.
Why did you apply to become a Missionary of Mercy?
I wanted to share that same mercy that I’ve experienced as a priest and to preach the message of the Gospel: that God the Father is all-loving and all-merciful and that Jesus is the face of the Father. God’s grace working in the life of a person can liberate them. God is the one who acts. We’re privileged to be part of the grace that God is bestowing on the Church right now, the grace of conversion.