"We know that, unfortunately, Catholics don't take advantage of the sacrament as much as they should, and so this is an opportunity for us to remind people of God's desire to forgive us and that he's always there to forgive us no matter the sin."
To help emphasize the role of the Sacrament of Penance during the Jubilee, Pope Francis has called the Church to send out "Missionaries of Mercy" – priests with the faculties to pardon sins in cases otherwise reserved for the Holy See.
These priests, whom the Pope will send out on Ash Wednesday, 2016, will serve as "a visible sign of the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation in our lives of faith," Fr. Sylva said.
"It is the responsibility of the (Pontifical Council) to select the Missionaries of Mercy," Fr. Sylva said. He explained that many of those selected have applied to the Council, along with a letter of recommendation from the bishop showing how they "epitomize and embody" a missionary of mercy, as described in Pope Francis' Bull for the Jubilee released earlier this year.
He added that some priests selected as "Missionaries of Mercy" did not apply, but were recommended to the Pontifical Council.
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Pope Francis has extended the sacrament of confession's availability to the world in other ways as well. For instance, all priests will automatically have the faculties to remit the penalty of excommunication attached to the sin of abortion, without having to receive permission from their bishops. The Pope has also granted faculties to priests of the Society of Pius X to hear confessions during the Jubilee as a step towards reconciling the traditionalist fraternity with the Holy See.
One of the characteristics of any Jubilee Year is the opening of Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica, which allows those who pass through to obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions
. The official "Holy Doors" are only found in the four major basilicas of Rome. For the Jubilee of Mercy, however, Pope Francis has asked that the tradition of the Holy Door be available at the local level.
"The Holy Father has stressed that this Jubilee is not only to be celebrated in Rome but in all of the particular churches of the world," Fr. Sylva said.