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Bandel Church assigned special status for Year of Mercy


By C M Paul
Guwahati, Dec. 20.  Kolkata -- Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta has assigned Bandel Basilica Church (estd.1599) as one of the designated churches to obtain blessings and graces connected with the Year of Mercy as declared by Pope Francis when he symbolically opened the ''Holy Door'' of St Peter's Basilica in Rome to the pilgrims on 8th December 2015.
Archbishop Thomas D'Souza inaugurated the Year of Mercy by a solemn opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary on Brabourne Road in Kolkata, 13 December.

''I have also declared Bandel Basilica in the archdiocese where the faithful could visit and perform their spiritual activities to obtain the graces of the year of mercy,'' said Archbishop D'Souza in Matters India.

''It is not possible for most people to visit St Peter's Basilica in Rome or the Cathedral in Kolkata to obtain the blessings of reconciliation, pardon and forgiveness during the Year of Mercy. So, besides the Cathedral church, each diocese has designated popular shrines as places for obtaining the graces of the Year of Mercy and we are very privileged to be offering services to pilgrims who come to celebrate the year of mercy,'' said the prior of Bandel Church Salesian Fr T. L. Francis.

On Sunday 13th December the prior of Bandel Church, in a solemn ceremonial ritual, blessed and opened the main door of the Church for the faithful to enter  into the Year of Mercy.

For the solemn occasion, Salesian alumnus Subrata Ganguly of Church Art Kolkata had the old wooden main door of the riverside entrance to the Basilica embellished with bronze finish relief motives depicting religious themes (see photo).

The symbolism of opening the Holy Door is taking seriously the words Jesus said, ''I am the door'' (John 10:7), and bringing to fruition the words of the Psalmist, who said, ''This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter'' (Psalm 118:20).

In the words of Pope Francis, ''On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters may experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.''

To receive the Jubilee Year graces, one must fulfill the usual conditions of making the sacrament of reconciliation, attend the holy mass and receive the Holy Eucharist as well as pass through a designated Holy Door during the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (between Dec. 8, 2015, and Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King) or perform one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.

In addition, Pope Francis has also said that he will allow all priests around the world to absolve women who confess to having had abortions, an ability earlier reserved only to bishops.

On abortion, Pope Francis calls it a ''tragedy'' that is ''experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails.''
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