Pope Francis has appointed four Filipino priests as “missionaries of mercy,” bringing the number of “missionaries of mercy” in the Philippines to 11.
Named to the “special mission” to spread the works of mercy are priests Allan Morris Abuan, Danille Chad Pecson, Matt Jason Molina, and Roy Joel Rosal from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan welcomed the appointment of his priests. He said it showed the pontiff’s desire to share God’s mercy to as many people.
“It shows the passionate desire of Pope Francis for more people to experience the mercy of God and to share that same message of mercy to many more,” said the prelate.
About a thousand priests were tapped by the pope to become “missionaries of mercy” from all over the world during the Jubilee of Mercy from December 2015 to November 2016.
The priests were granted special authority to pardon sins that carry penalties that only the Vatican can lift, such as an attempt against the life of the pope or a priest who violates the seal of confession.
The pope also gave the missionaries the power to forgive abortion, a right previously reserved for bishops or special confessors.
“The Church wants to bring the grace of forgiveness to everyone,” said Franciscan priest Jerome Ponce, who is also a missionary of mercy.
“Usually we offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the parishes,” he said.
The new appointments came nearly four years after the pope extended the ministry of those he named as missionaries even after Jubilee of Mercy.
The other missionaries of mercy in the Philippines are Franciscan priests Andrew Litigio, Joe Litigio, Robert Manansala, Andres Rañoa, and Father Jose Lito Escote of the Antique diocese, and Father Darek Drzewiecki of the Congregation of the Marian Fathers in Davao.