[ Fr.Sunil De Silva - 12.10.2015 ]

The Presbyteral Meeting of the Archdiocese of Colombo was held on Monday 12th October 2015 at the Archbishop’s House, Borella.

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, presided at the meeting together with the Auxiliary Bishops, His Lordships, Bishop Emmanuel Fernando and Bishop Maxwell Silva.

His Eminence explained the purpose of the meeting and to evaluate the Regionalization of the Archdiocese of Colombo, which was done in 2011 for a better pastoral approach to the ministry. After the group discussions were done on the regional-basis and the reports were presented at the general meeting.

Also His Eminence informed that the Holy Father Pope Francis has declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year for the Church, calling it a “Holy Year of Mercy”.

The year will begin on December 8 2015, the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council, and conclude on November 20 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.

In view of this, His Eminence said that in the Archdiocese of Colombo, the Year of Mercy will be declared on 08th of December 2015 at St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena and the Door of Mercy will be opened at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, Tewatta on 12th December 2015.

His Eminence also invited the Fathers to prepare the faithful for the Year of Mercy and to organize various programmes according to the proposals made by Holy Father Pope Francis. His Eminence thanked Very Rev. Fr. Daya Shelton Welikadarachchi for translating into Sinhala, the Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.

The Pope told the faithful at St Peter’s Basilica, on 14th March, “Dear brothers and sisters, I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy.

“It is a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy.”

“I am convinced that the whole Church will be able to find in this jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and every woman of our time,” Francis added, entrusting the Holy Year to Mary, Mother of Mercy.

The pontiff has also said that he will allow all priests around the world to absolve women who confess to having had abortions, an ability normally reserved only to bishops.

And in a striking move for church unity in expressing God's mercy, the pope has even granted priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X faculties to offer absolution of sins "validly and licitly" to those who approach them for confession.

Francis made the announcement of the new indulgences and abilities in a letter sent Tuesday to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which is organizing the holy year on his behalf.

Pope Francis said, I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. 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.