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Mercy, not magic – Mumbai Archdiocese clarifies Holy Doors


The archdiocese of Mumbai issued a clarification last week after WhatsApp users in Maharashtra were circulating a 'misleading' message, which promoted a superstitious understanding of the Year of Mercy.

The archdiocese's Jan. 19 statement noted that the text “gives the impression that merely walking through the Doors of Mercy will result in the forgiveness of sins.”

“These doors are not magical doors and we need to understand that to experience and obtain the indulgence, the faithful are called, as pilgrims, to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy, make a profession of faith, and pray for the Holy Father and for his intentions for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”

The archdiocese's noted added, “It must be understood that walking through the Door of Mercy indicates the desire for the forgiveness of sins, and walking through it symbolises a leaving behind of the past and entering into a new life through Christ, who is the door.”
“Please note that walking through the Holy Doors is not a substitute for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

The misleading WhatsApp message was based on an article about the opening of the local Holy Doors that appeared in a local daily. The article had not entered deeply into the theological, sacramental, or liturgical significance of the Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis opened the Year of Mercy Dec. 8, 2015, and it will close Nov. 20, on the feast of Christ the King.

The jubilee year includes Holy Doors in every diocese. When they pass through the doors pilgrims can receive a plenary indulgence – under the usual conditions.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay opened the Doors of Mercy at Mumbai's Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount on Dec. 20, 2015.