Pope Francis calls for an age of mercy. So where is it?

By Don Clemmer, 5 April 2021
Image: falco/Pixabay


It’s much easier to see the world’s wounds than any concrete evidence of mercy.

When Pope Francis surveys the world around him—the pandemic, a refugee crisis, leaps in digital technology, racial injustice, democracies in turmoil—his prescription remains steady.

First, as he articulated in Florence in November 2015, is that “today we are not living an epoch of change so much as an epochal change.” That is, the world is in a transitional period, when one era of history is dying and a new one is still coming into being. Second, he says, it’s a time for mercy, in which the church in particular shows a merciful face to a wounded world.

Of course, the wounded world is much easier to see today than any concrete evidence that humanity has entered an epoch primarily characterised by its mercy. The first question one could ask about an Age of Mercy is, “Where the heck is it!?” That’s why it’s good to grapple with what Pope Francis means when he insistently applies this understanding to the signs of the times.

“How do we bring mercy to the world?” is how Sister of Mercy Kelly Williams, a woman religious in her early 30s based in Columbus, Georgia, frames the charism of her community. “How do I bring mercy into my own life? How am I merciful with myself? How would God look at me in this moment?”

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Don Clemmer is a freelance writer and communications professional based in Indiana. He edits Cross Roads magazine for the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky.

This article also appears in the April 2021 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 86, No. 4, pages 10-15). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

With thanks to U.S. Catholic, published by the Claretian Missionaries, a Roman Catholic religious community of priests and brothers dedicated to the mission of living and spreading the gospel of Jesus. 


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