Catholic Courier 10 01 2015 E Edition Page A2

A2 Catholic Courier Diocese of Rochester, NY October 2015 News &Analysis Bishop SalvatoreR. Matano From the Bishop October 2015 My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Throughout the Catholic Church in the United States, the month of October is recognized as Respect Life Month, dedicated to the Gospel of Life, which upholds the dignity of every person from the moment of conception until natural death. As a community of faith, with charity for all, we give special attention at this time to thank God for the great gift of life and to proclaim unambiguous- ly the right to life for every person from the very moment of concep- tion until natural death. Knowing our own human weaknesses and fail- ures, we implore the Lord to "In- crease our faith!" (Luke 17:5). "In- crease our Faith," O Lord, that we may be your instruments of life, to protect all life. Let us recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to government officials and diplomats in Vienna on September 7, 2007: "The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right - it is the very oppo- site. It is 'a deep wound in society.'" With the mercy and love exempli- fied by our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, we seek to repair that wound and to heal the hurt endured by so many women and men "who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision" (pa- pal letter to Archbishop Rino Fisi - chella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Sept. 1, 2015). In that same letter, Pope Francis conceded "to all priests for the Ju- bilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it." How- ever, for many years now in the arch/dioceses throughout the United States, bishops, having the authority to do so in their particular jurisdic- tion, have granted to priests in their respective dioceses the faculty, that is the privilege and permission, to absolve penitents of the sin of abor- tion. Realizing the deep pain suf- fered by those who have been so grievously wounded, the church has sought to be the instrument of God's mercy and reconciliation in sacra- mental confession by having antici- pated this now general faculty granted to all priests by Pope Fran- cis: "May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous for- giveness of the Father who renews all with his presence" (Ibid.). This beautiful expression of for- giveness underlines the primary place of the sacrament of reconcili- ation in celebrating the Year of Mer- cy beginning on Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Con- ception, and ending on the Solemnity of Christ the King on Nov. 20, 2016. Through the sacramental ministry of the priesthood, the faithful are giv- en the opportunity to restore their relationship with Christ that has been damaged by sin. Jesus, through the Church's ministry, never aban- dons us; even when we fail, we are not alone. Because we have become His sons and daughters in baptism, we belong to Christ, we share in His resurrection, and His forgiveness and mercy await us in the cacrament of reconciliation. In the earliest days of the church, the apostles preached this belief and expression of hope. To anyone who would listen to them they pro- claimed that sins are forgiven by Je- sus who is alive and lives among us. Our struggles are no longer ours alone but we have Jesus extending His hand in sacramental benevo- lence. To His apostles and to the bishops and priests who would fol- low them, Christ gave this power and mission to forgive and to recon- cile on that first Easter Sunday when he appeared to His disciples. He greeted them with the words: "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me so am I sending you." Then Jesus said to them: "Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained" (John 20: 21-23; cf. also Matthew 16:19). The mission of the disciples is joined to the ministry of charity recognized in reconciliation and there one discovers true peace. The presence of Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit are felt in every aspect of our lives, especially at those times when we are trou- bled and struggling, on the brink of despair and feeling so alone, when sin overwhelms us. With arms out- stretched, Jesus says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Matthew 11:28). Our God is not removed or absent from our lives. How true the words: "He shall dwell with them and they shall be His people, and He shall be their God who is always with them. He shall wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the former world has passed away" (Revelation 21:3-5). I pray that during the Year of Mer- cy the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation will be discovered anew and its importance in the live of the church restored. I have asked our priests to extend the hours of confession during this year in each of the deaneries. I desire that the faithful have ample opportunity for personal confession. It is also a priv- ileged opportunity for confessors to serve the faithful in the most beauti- ful of ways: restoring broken hearts, extending compassion and offering encouragement through the teach- ings of Jesus and the church. Can there be any renewal without each of us seeking forgiveness! As we meditate more intently up- on the beauty of Jesus' willingness to forgive us, I cannot help but re- call Saint Dismas, the repentant sinner who hung from a cross aside of Christ on Calvary. (Cf. Luke 23: 39-43). In that mutual time of suf- Continued on page A17 Defend life unambiguously Locals react to pope's visit People from all over the Dio- cese of Rochester - from the current and emeritus bishop, to priests and diocesan employees, and to men, women and children from diocesan parishes - had the chance to take part in various aspects of Pope Francis' first trip to the United States Sept. 22-27. Here are some of their reflec- tions on experiences in Washing- ton, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. The Diocese of Rochester's Bishop Salvatore R. Matano was able to participate in several of the papal events, including two Masses, as a number of pilgrims from the diocese traveled to the three cities to catch of glimpse of Pope Francis. Millions more, meanwhile, tuned into televised broadcasts of papal Masses and other events. "It was a very uplifting and joyful moment for all the faithful in the United States, as well as an uplifting and positive moment for even non-Catholics or nonbe- lievers to see the chief shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church so concerned about the many issues that face us today," Bishop Matano told the Catholic Courier on Sept. 28. Bishop Matano traveled to Washington, D.C., Sept. 23 to be present for Pope Francis' mid- day prayer service and address to U.S. bishops, followed that af- ternoon by the canonization Mass for St. Junipero Serra. The next day, Bishop Matano was in New York City for vespers, or evening prayer, with Pope Fran- cis at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On Sept. 25, Bishop Matano was pre- sent for the pope's interreligious encounter at the National Sep- tember 11 Memorial and Muse- um as well as an evening Mass at Madison Square Garden. The throngs at all of these events wel- comed Pope Francis "with an abundance of love and heartfelt gratitude that he would come to visit with us in the United Continued on page A4

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