Northern Ireland news

Bishops open cathedral doors for Year of Mercy

Bishop Noel Treanor prepares to open the Door of Mercy at St Patrick's. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

CATHOLIC  bishops have pushed open their cathedral and church doors as part of the Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis has requested that every diocese in the world open a 'door of mercy' for celebrations of the jubilee year.

The jubilee opened last week to commemorate both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

The Pope marked the official start of a symbolic year for Catholics across the world, by opening the original Holy Door at St Peter's Basilica in Rome, for the first time since the turn of the century.

The aim of the Year of Mercy is to allow Catholics to show mercy and compassion and focus on forgiveness, reconciliation and doing good.

The crossing of the threshold of a Holy Door is a sign of the passage from sin to grace.

In Belfast last night, Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor opened the door of mercy for the Diocese in St Patrick's Church, on Donegall Street. St Patrick's was nominated because it is celebrating its bicentenary.

In Derry, Bishop Donal McKeown opened the Holy Door in St Eugene’s Cathedral, which will become a "door of mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope".

"We began our procession to the Holy Door in Christ Church across the road," Bishop McKeown said in his homily.

That is not just a convenient spot from which to walk. It reflects a long standing shared mission between the various Christian Churches in this city. As we together approach the year of centenaries in 2016, together we will be giving a shared message that events from the past must be commemorated with mercy and never with arrogance, triumphalism or victim-hood.

"The Year of Mercy gives us a great opportunity to remember death and battle with sadness, silence and forgiveness rather than with a vainglorious abuse of the past in the service of subliminal modern battles. Jesus was concerned with healing our memories of the past, not with exploiting them."

The Holy Year of Mercy runs until November 20, 2016.

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