As part of the Year of Mercy, the Diocese of Salford has organised a double decker bus that will tour parts Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The bus will be stopping in town centres, housing estates, colleges, and homeless centres. It will have priests on board, available to hear Confession, blessings or just a simple chat. There will also be music and young volunteers distributing leaflets to passers-by.
The bus has been organised in response to Pope Francis’s announcement of the upcoming jubilee year, a year that celebrates the mercy of God and forgiveness of sins, that the Pontiff has determined will be a Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Bishop John Arnold of Salford said: “The Mercy Bus is a way of reaching out to people who might not otherwise have contact with the Church. We are going to them, rather than expecting them to come to us.”
In a letter in September, Pope Francis stated that he wanted the year to be focused on people who have been imprisoned and “the tragedy of abortion.”
“I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision,” the Pope wrote.
“What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.”
The pontiff has said that he will allow priests around the world to absolve women who confess to having had abortions, which is something normally reserved for bishops.
The jubilee will include a number of days specially-designated to consecrated men and women, deacons, priests, catechists and teenagers, as well as the sick and disabled. Young people will also have the opportunity to celebrate at the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, from July 25-31, 2016.
The ‘mercy bus’ will take to the road on Saturdays and certain week days from February 6 next year.