The missionaries will be commissioned formally by the Pope and sent out on Ash Wednesday next year

Pope Francis is looking for ‘missionaries of mercy’, priests who are known for their preaching and dedication to hearing confessions and granting absolution.

Priests interested in being one of the special communicators of God’s mercy are invited to apply online, providing that they have the support of their bishop or superior.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, the office Pope Francis charged with coordinating the Holy Year of Mercy, which begins December 8, posted a list of desired qualities and the application form on the Year of Mercy website.

The missionaries will be commissioned formally by the Pope and sent out February 10, Ash Wednesday.

The council said the missionaries are to be “a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness.”

They should be “inspiring preachers of mercy; heralds of the joy of forgiveness; welcoming, loving and compassionate confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person.”

With an invitation from a local bishop, the missionaries will preach and administer the sacrament of reconciliation during special Year of Mercy events, the council said.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, he said he would give the “missionaries of mercy” special authority or faculties “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the reference to “reserved” sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

If the person is repentant, he said, the missionaries would be able to remove the excommunication and grant absolution in those cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court.