Pope urges expansion of priests’ on-call emergency service

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August 17, 2015

Fraternal Society of Mercy Brother Carlos J. Ramos Morales helps a terminally ill participant at Belen Community near Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Aug. 4. The Belen Community houses homeless men and woman who have mental illness, AIDS and cancer. Pope Francis has urged priests to take turns being on call all night for emergency spiritual care of the sick and dying(CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See POPE-ONCALL Aug. 14, 2015.

Fraternal Society of Mercy Brother Carlos J. Ramos Morales helps a terminally ill participant at Belen Community near Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Aug. 4. The Belen Community houses homeless men and woman who have mental illness, AIDS and cancer. Pope Francis has urged priests to take turns being on call all night for emergency spiritual care of the sick and dying(CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Year of Mercy is a perfect time to increase the number of priests who take turns being on call all night for emergency spiritual care of the sick and dying, Pope Francis wrote.

The pope, as Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, belonged to a special service, which is supported by the Federation of Priestly Emergency Services, an organization of laypeople in Argentina and Ecuador who drive and accompany priests on their nighttime calls.

In a letter July 27 to the federation’s president, Manuel Martin Sjoberg, Pope Francis wrote, “The coming extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a good occasion for intensifying the collaboration between pastors and laypeople in the mission of supporting with affection and tenderly assisting the sick and dying.”

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