Pope francis declares holy year for mercy
Rome, Italy, March 13, 2015 /10:05 am (CNA/EWTN News) - During his homily for a Lenten penitential service, Pope Francis announced an extraordinary jubilee to start at the end of the year, which will be dedicated to a theme close to the pontiff's heart: mercy.
"Dear brothers and sisters, I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy," the Pope told attendees of his March 13 penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica.
"It's a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy."
The biblical passage for the Holy Year's theme is from Luke Chapter 6 verse 36, in which Jesus tells his disciples, "Be merciful as your Father is merciful."
"I am convinced that the whole Church will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and every woman of our time," Francis said, and entrusted the Holy Year to Mary, Mother of Mercy.
Pope Francis made his announcement during a penitential liturgy opening the second "24 Hours for the Lord" event, which he originally called for in Lent of last year.
An initiative of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the event is designed to widen access to the Sacrament of Confession by having parishes open their doors for an extended period of time with priests available to those who come.
Francis' announcement of the Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy not only falls on the opening of the 24 hours for the Lord event, which follows the theme "God rich in mercy," but also the two year anniversary of his pontificate.
The Jubilee, also called a Holy Year, will open this year on Dec. 8 - the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - and will close on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
It will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. The Jubilee will be organized by the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.
Sunday readings during Ordinary Time for the Holy Year will be taken from the Gospel of Luke, as he is often referred to as "the evangelist of mercy." Among the well-known parables of mercy present in Luke's Gospel are those of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the merciful father. ...