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Jubilee Year of Mercy

POPE FRANCIS INITIATION OF A ‘YEAR OF MERCY’Pope

During a Penitential Celebration on March 13, 2015 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis announced the celebration of an extraordinary Holy Year dedicated to Mercy.  The Jubilee Year of Mercy will begin on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Holy Father had stated:
“This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!”

With the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis focused attention upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him. The encounter with God, in turn, inspires in one the virtue of mercy. The Pope explained that the Jubilee is an opportunity for every person and not simply an institutional event.

To convene the Jubilee, on April 11, 2015, the Pope issued a so-called “Bull” entitled “Misericordie Vultus,” or “The Face of Mercy.” A summary appears below, and highlights why Pope Francis wanted to focus on mercy, and particular areas of concern where he would hope “the Face of Mercy” would be directed.

The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door. Each of the four major basilicas of Rome has a Holy Door: Saint Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. The rite of the opening of the Holy Door illustrates symbolically the idea that, during the Jubilee, the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” towards salvation. The Holy Doors of the other Basilicas, including one in Quebec City, will be opened after the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Year of Mercy logo

SUMMARY OF “MISERICORDIAE VULTUS”: 
WHY A JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY

Vatican City, 12 April 2015 (Vatican Information Service) – The following is a summary of the Papal Bull “Misericordiae Vultus”, by which Pope Francis convoked the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is composed of 25 numbered sections. Pope Francis has described the most salient features of mercy, focusing primarily on the theme of the light of Christ’s face. Mercy is not an abstract word, but rather a face to recognize, contemplate and serve. The Bull is developed in a Trinitary fashion (Nos. 6-9) and extends to a description of the Church as a credible sign of mercy: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life” (No.10).

Pope Francis indicates the salient phases of the Jubilee. The opening coincides with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council: “The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way” (No. 4). The conclusion will take place “with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on 20 November 2016. On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future.” (no.5).

A special feature of this Holy Year is the fact that it will be celebrated not only in Rome, but also in all the other dioceses of the world. The Holy Door will be opened by the Pope at St. Peter’s on 8 December, and on the following Sunday in all the Churches of the world. Another novelty is that the Pope will grant the possibility of opening the Holy Door also in Sanctuaries, where many pilgrims will go in order to pray.

Pope Francis resumes the teaching of St. John XXIII, who spoke of the “medicine of Mercy”, and of Paul VI who identified the spirituality of Vatican II with that of the Samaritan. The Bull explains, furthermore, various salient aspects of the Jubilee: firstly, the motto, “Merciful like the Father”, then the meaning of pilgrimage and above all the need for forgiveness.

The theme that is particularly close to the Pope’s heart is found in section No. 15: the works of corporal and spiritual mercy are to be resumed in order to “reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy”. A further indication is offered by Lent, with the sending out of the “Missionaries of Mercy” (No. 18), a new and original initiative by which the Pope intends to emphasize his pastoral care in a more concrete way. In paragraphs 20 and 21 the Pope considers the theme of the relationship between justice and mercy, showing that he does not stop at a legalistic view, but rather aims at a path that leads to merciful love.

Paragraph 19 is a powerful appeal against organized violence and against those who are “advocates and accomplices” of corruption. The Pope uses strong words to denounce this “festering wound”, and insists that during this Holy Year there must be true conversion: “This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched! When confronted with evil deeds, even in the face of serious crimes, it is the time to listen to the cry of innocent people who are deprived of their property, their dignity, their feelings, and even their very lives. To stick to the way of evil will only leave one deluded and sad. True life is something entirely different. God never tires of reaching out to us. He is always ready to listen, as I am too, along with my brother bishops and priests. All one needs to do is to accept the invitation to conversion and submit oneself to justice during this special time of mercy offered by the Church” (No. 19).

The granting of indulgences as a traditional theme of the Jubilee year is expressed in section No. 22.

A final original aspect is offered by Pope Francis with regard to mercy as a theme shared also by Jews and Muslims: “I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination” (No. 23).

The Pope’s wish is that this Year, experienced also in the sharing of divine mercy, may be “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart and repeats that he loves us and wants to share his love with us. … In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy, and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: ‘Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old’”.

A further reflection by the Holy Father on the significance of the Jubilee of Mercy is found in his homily on April 11 for First Vespers of the Second Sunday of Easter.  In that reflection, he said:

Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because… the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness. This is not the time to be distracted; on the contrary, we need to be vigilant and to reawaken in ourselves the capacity to see what is essential. This is a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy (cf. Jn 20:21-23). For this reason, the Holy Year must keep alive the desire to know how to welcome the numerous signs of the tenderness which God offers to the whole world and, above all, to those who suffer, who are alone and abandoned, without hope of being pardoned or feeling the Father’s love. A Holy Year to experience strongly within ourselves the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd who has come in search of us because we were lost. A Jubilee to receive the warmth of his love when he bears us upon his shoulders and brings us back to the Father’s house. A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by his mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy. Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

 

Further information and video clips can be found here:

  • The official website for the Jubilee has been launched: www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va and can be accessed also at www.im.va. The site is available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. The website is link to a number of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Flickr) by which the Pontifical Council will be able to provide updates on the Holy Father's initiative and follow in real time the major events as they take place.
  • eResource Kit & Planning Guide for the Jubilee Year of Mercy
  • Introduction to Sr. Faustina and Divine Mercy