“Mercy, not magic”. Year of Mercy Doors are NOT a substitute for confession

From CNS:

Mercy, not magic – Archdiocese of Bombay clarifies Holy Doors and the Jubilee

.- The Archdiocese of Bombay issued a clarification last week after WhatsApp users in Maharashtra were circulating a ‘misleading’ message which promoted a superstitious understanding of the Year of Mercy.

The archdiocese’s Jan. 19 statement noted that the text “gives the impression that merely walking through the Doors of Mercy will result in the forgiveness of sins.

These doors are not magical doors and we need to understand that to experience and obtain the indulgence, the faithful are called, as pilgrims, to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy, make a profession of faith, and pray for the Holy Father and for his intentions for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”  [GO TO CONFESSION!]

The archdiocese’s noted added, “It must be understood that walking through the Door of Mercy indicates the desire for the forgiveness of sins, and walking through it symbolises a leaving behind of the past and entering into a new life through Christ, who is the door.”

Please note that walking through the Holy Doors is not a substitute for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

[…]Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay opened the Doors of Mercy at Mumbai’s Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount on Dec. 20, 2015. He   reminded the faithful: “This is the Lord’s Gate: let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness.” The doors were then opened, using the Bible as the key, with the following invocation, “Open the Gates of Justice; we shall enter and give thanks.”

The cardinal in his homily at the Mass explained the characteristics and significance of the Holy Year and urged the faithful to “fix your eyes on Jesus”   and to be “agents of God’s mercy.”

“No one should say that it is difficult to reach God and difficult to obtain mercy, for the Church is indeed the vehicle of mercy,” Cardinal Gracias said. “We are the Church and it becomes our Christian duty to spread the message of God’s mercy and reconciliation.”

“With the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy, we have direction; with the example of our religious leaders, we have motivation; and with God’s mercy through Jesus himself, we have a straight path.”



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Still, doing the indulgence properly is a great experience. I did it once already at my local workplace church (one of 7 or 9 designated sites in my archdiocese) and it was quite fun to run through the door and feel awesome! I’ll get to do it again (with another door) with my friends at my wife’s parish, for a future group outing too! And of course good highlight Fr Z!

  2. Allan S. says:

    Well, one can perhaps understand the confusion. On the one hand, we have the actual preconditions outlined in formal papal documents:

    “To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”

    On the other hand, we see isolated statements like:

    “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence.”
    – Letter by Francis to Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization

    The latter part of the above excerpt does appear to suggest that, notwithstanding anything else, everyone may obtain the indulgence merely by performing one, isolated corporal or spiritual work of mercy. Rebuke someone in the Combox of Fishwrap? Bam! – Plenary indulgence!


  3. tz2026 says:

    The ordinary conditions seem to apply, Confession and Holy Communion (and praying for the Holy Father’s Intentions?).

  4. Charles says:

    Holy doors, confession, and communion today. I love working in the Cathedral offices.

  5. frodo says:

    Didn’t I see something like this in the movie “Dogma”? Can’t wait for the biological solution to purge that from the cosmos.

  6. E.A. Bucchianeri says:

    Hello Father, thank you for reminding everyone that the Holy Doors are not ‘automatic’ portals to heaven! People have forgotten the teachings about indulgences…which brings me to a rather distressing question, for which I cannot find an answer anywhere:

    If a sacrilege such as a murder or suicide happens in a church that has a designated Holy Door, are the graces of the door still in effect? [It seems to me that the indulgence is still in place. The graces are up to you and God. Not magic, remember?] It is understood that Mass and other services should not be allowed to continue until the ground is rededicated /reconsecrated by the local bishop, but what if there is NO rededication? The ground is still desecrated, but what about the Door?

    Sadly, this is the case in our church: in FATIMA, PORTIGAL! A man commited suicide in the Holy Trinity Church on January 7th, (God help him and his family), but it appears services have continued without any word or public mention if the bishop came or not to rededicate the Holy Trinity Church. [I am not sure about this, but I think this is not always a public ceremony.] It is announced the bishop is coming to rededicate the Holy Rosary Basillica on February 2 after its restoration, but there is absolutely no word about rededicating the other church where the tragedy took place. I’ve e-mailed the bishop’s office, the Fatima rectory, even left two public posts on the Fatima Sanctuary’s Facebook page, I’ve even sent a tweet to the Pope since I could not find an e-mail for him~absolute silence everywhere!

    I usually don’t make a public nuisance of myself like this, but this is imperative. Are the graces of the Holy Door also null due to the sacrilege? Thank you.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    E. A. Bucchianeri: Many years ago, my parish church was desecrated by a sacrilegious act against the Holy Eucharist. It happened on Friday night and was found on Saturday morning; and the church was reconsecrated on Monday. It would have happened faster, but these were the days before the Internet and Father had to have the text faxed from Rome, so he could not find anybody in the Curia offices on Saturday.

    So it probably was consecrated later the same day, like Notre Dame in Paris after the suicide there.

  8. Matt Robare says:

    One shouldn’t watch the film “Dogma” to learn about the Church. Possibly one shouldn’t watch it all, considering the discussion about “Lucifer.”

  9. E.A. Bucchianeri says:

    Hello everyone, thank you for your answers: this will set my mind at rest.

    Maybe the reconsecration was done~the church was closed for a day, all right.
    Still, I find it strange that even if the reconsecration was privately done, someone just didn’t send a one-liner in reply, especially as the news of the tragedy was made public, that so instead of posting questions / comments everywhere, I could have just left it alone~I had no intention to become a pest or to spread scandal!

    Thank you again! God bless you all.

  10. Prayerful says:

    I hope people also realise that these collective penitential services are no substitute either. There are times where soldiers might be about to go into combat, some occasions where confessions as normally understood are not possible, but the exception has been mis-interpreted so liberally as to almost eliminate Confessions, the so-called Sacrament of Reconciliation, in places.

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