(Vatican Radio) The Year of Mercy may be coming to an end in the next few weeks, but for the past year the faithful of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia have been journeying together and heeding Pope Francis’ call to delve more deeply into the mystery of God’s Mercy.
The Archdiocese headed by Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been offering a series of initiatives such as pilgrimage walks and visits to seven nominated Mercy Churches in the Archdiocese, an emphasis on prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a focus on welcoming and settling refugees and a Jubilee of Prisoners.
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Reflecting on this Extraordinary Year, Archbishop Coleridge says, “it certainly has struck a powerful chord in many many hearts here, in a way that’s surprised me a little I confess, but I’m delighted… somehow this year, and I think it’s got to do with Pope Francis, has spoken a kind of idiom that people understand; all kinds of people, they understand the language and the gestures of mercy…”
Mercy in Action
“Mercy”, underlines the Archbishop, “is a verb, it’s all about doing something and it’s not rocket science and again Pope Francis has shown that.” He adds, just like the Pope’s initiatives for the homeless in Rome, people are putting mercy into action in Brisbane. There are two young guys, Archbishop Coleridge says, from one of the Catholic schools who got a van and they “drive around Brisbane and all they do is wash the clothes of the homeless.”
Repentance and Mercy
During this Jubilee Year the primary focus has been on Mercy. But what about repentance? Asked about the need to repent before being merciful the Archbishop says, “you do, but it’s all a question of good timing, and again I think the Pope understands this when he talks about the need to accompany people… so I think what the Holy Father has been saying, and I agree totally, is you’ve got to, first of all get to know people; meet them; culture of encounter; walk with them on the way; listen to them before you say anything and when the right moment comes and the right relationship has been built, then there can be an appropriate call to repentance…”
Archbishop Coleridge stresses that there have been many practical gestures that have resulted from this Year of Mercy, noting the “idea of a Church that looks outward and not inward and is prepared to go out and start doing some of these very simple and very practical things…” “We need to enact Mercy publicly”, he says, “and therefore be a different kind of presence in society.”