Bishop Francis Duffy’s pastoral letter for the Year of Mercy

22 Feb, 2016 | News

Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, has published a pastoral letter for the Jubilee Year of Mercy which runs from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016.

In his pastoral Bishop Duffy says: “We don’t use the word mercy that much in everyday speech. We speak of ‘mercy’ at Mass – ‘Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy’ and ‘Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us’. We tend to use words like compassion, kindness, understanding, reassurance, consolation and forgiveness to capture some of the meaning of mercy. Mercy is about attitudes and actions that are life enhancing; mercy can help us have a rich and warm relationship with God and our neighbour. If we want to know what mercy means we look at Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Duffy then reminds the faithful what Pope Francis said about Mercy in his letter introducing the year:  ‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy … Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.’ Pope Francis also describes mercy as the ‘beating heart of the Gospel’.


Bishop Duffy then focuses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy saying: “Pope Francis urges us this year to look again and rediscover the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy because they are practical expressions of our love of neighbour.”

The Corporal Works of Mercy are: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting those in prison, comforting the sick and burying the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: advising sinners, instructing the uninformed, counselling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, being patient with those in error, forgiving offences, praying for the living and the dead.

Bishop Duffy says that the Holy Year of Mercy is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we allow God’s love for us and his mercy towards us have an impact on how we live. It is also an opportunity to give thanks that many people are merciful in our communities and in our world.

Bishop Duffy introduces the Holy Door of Mercy saying: “Part of the tradition of a Holy Year is the Holy Door; it is a symbol of welcome. Up until now the Holy Door was confined to Rome but this year Holy Doors of Mercy are opened in cathedrals and churches all over the world. In this Holy Year our diocese will have two Holy Doors of Mercy: one at Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford and another at Saint Mary’s Church in Athlone. I invite individuals, families, class groups and parishes to make a pilgrimage, a special journey, to one of our Holy Doors. Our pilgrimage to a Holy Door is a sign of our willingness to allow God’s merciful love flow into, and through, our lives.”

Read the full pastoral on




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