A Brazilian bishop has criticized the mainstream media for manipulating and confusing their readers regarding Pope Francis' recent moves in the reform of the annulment process and special permissions regarding confession during the Jubilee of Mercy. Bishop Henrique Soares da Costa of Palmares warned that proceeding in this fashion, what the world wants is “to become the guide for the faith of Catholics, inventing a Pope who doesn't exist.” Bishop Soares wrote on his Facebook page that “the communications media report on certain events in the life of the Church with shameful disinformation and sensationalism.” Regarding the reforms established for the annulment process announced on Sept. 8, the bishop explained that contrary to what was said in Brazilian media, the Church has neither the capacity nor the power to end a marriage, but rather discovers that a supposed marriage was, in fact, null. He founds headlines like “Pope simplifies process of ending a marriage”, “Pope Francis’ reform allows a marriage to be ended in 45 days”, or “Pope Francis facilitates and lowers cost of ending a marriage in the Church”. Addressing the question, Bishop Soares noted that “the Church doesn’t end marriages. Christ did not give her that power. He also explained that the Church recognizes that “under certain circumstances there really wasn’t a marriage,” and that those cases are declared null. “A lasting and consummated marriage, with everything in order, continues and will continue to be indissoluble, and the Church can’t do anything about it because her Lord and Master did not grant her that authority. We are all disciples before Christ: only one is the Master, only one is the Guide, only one is the Lord,” he affirmed. The Bishop of Palmares emphasized that the measures enacted by Pope Francis are intended to simplify the process of recognizing the nullity of a marrage, which does not affect the indissolubility of marriage. “Summing up: the pope is doing nothing extraordinary or contrary to the faith of the Church,” he emphasized. Bishop Soares also referred to the media coverage of Pope Francis; letter on the Year of Mercy, in which Pope Francis granted every priest the faculty to absolve of the sin of abortion during the Year of Mercy. “First of all the crazy idea that abortion would now be a less serious sin for Catholics … abortion is a most grave sin, it’s a mortal sin,” the Brazilian prelate wrote. The bishop explained that “normally, pardon for this kind of sin depends on certain guidelines from the bishops” and in the Year of Mercy, the Pope is allowing any priest to forgive this sin. “This was a very beautiful gesture on the part of the Pope, and expresses how great is the Lord’s forgiveness for those who repent of such a grave sin,” he said. Finally, Bishop Soares exhorted Catholics, “let us never forget: the Church belongs to Christ and not to a Pope. The Pope is the first guardian of and witness to the faith of the Church, along with the bishops in communion with him. Catholics should always remember this and be at peace.”
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