On the 2nd anniversary of his election to the See of Peter, Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year “of Mercy”.
The Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the 8 December 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. The Jubilee will conclude on 20 November 2016, Christ the King (in the Novus Ordo calendar).
He will promulgate the Bull proclaiming the Jubilee on the Sunday after Easter, “Divine Mercy”.
The last major Jubilee was announced by St. John Paul II for the Year 2000. Generally Jubilees come every 25 years or so, but there have been special Jubilees, such as that of 1983.
Francis made the announcement in the context of a penance service with individual confessions.
Pope Francis has spoken often and with great warmth about the need for the Sacrament of Penance. He gave a magnificent testimony to how important making a good confession is when, last year, again in the context of a penance service, he made his own confession at one of the confessionals in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The theme of “mercy” has been strong in this pontificate.
However, we must always remember that mercy cannot be separated from the truth. We cannot set aside the truth of Catholic doctrine in the name of mercy, because that would falsify mercy. Similarly, we cannot approach God seeking mercy without first discerning the truth about ourselves, our state of soul, our sins, the harm we have done to ourselves, to neighbors and to God’s love. Furthermore, mercy is not the enemy of justice. God’s justice we will receive whether we want it or not. God cannot be other than just. However, mercy is always there for the asking, provided that we do so with honesty and humility.
A Year of Mercy is an inspired idea. It reminds me strongly of something that Benedict XVI might have implemented. That said, there is no question that the theme of mercy has resonated constantly during the Pope Francis’ pontificate, even in his choice of motto, Miserando atque eligendo.