Year of Mercy

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Pope Francis Announced an Extraordinary Holy Year to Begin on December 8th, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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 of Mercy will begin on December 8th, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will conclude on November 20th, 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Holy Father’s announcement was greeted with an applause by those present in the Basilica. 

“I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, so that they can animate as a new step in the path of the Church in its mission of bringing the Gospel of mercy to each person,” he said.

“I am convinced that the whole Church can find in this Jubilee the joy to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to each man and each woman of our time. We entrust it to the Mother of Mercy, so that She may turn towards us Her gaze and watch over our path.”

According to the Holy See Press Office, the Jubilee Year of Mercy takes place on the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. “This is of great significance, for it impels the Church to continue the work begun at Vatican II,” a communique from the Holy See stated.

While an ordinary Jubilee year is celebrated every 25 years, an extraordinary Jubilee may be announced on the occasion of an event of significant importance.  The last ordinary Jubilee took place in the year 2000 while the last extraordinary year was proclaimed in 1983 by John Paul II.

Throughout his pontificate, mercy has been a major theme close to the Pope’s heart; his episcopal motto – Miserando atque eligendo – refers to the merciful gaze of Christ towards St. Matthew upon choosing him. 

The official and solemn announcement of the Holy Year took place this past Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12th, 2015. “Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today?” The Pontiff posed this question in his homily during the Divine Mercy Feast at St. Peter’s Basilica, responding: “Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness.”

The Pope’s remarks were intertwined with his having officially proclaimed a new Holy Year with the presentation of the official Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. A Papal Bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope. It is named after the lead seal (bulla) that is appended to the end in order to authenticate it. Entitled “Misericordiae Vultus” or “The Face of Mercy,” this present Bull explains how Jesus is ‘the face’ of His Father’s mercy and that we are instruments of God’s superabundant mercy.

Pope Francis stressed that the Church is called to offer “more evident signs” of God’s presence and closeness. This year we are to be transformed by His mercy, so that we too may become “witnesses to mercy,” the Pope said, noting, “Without the witness of pardon life would be unfruitful and sterile.” The Holy Year’s motto is, “Be merciful like your Father.” –