The Holy Year of Mercy will be an opportunity to encourage Christians to meet people’s “real needs” with concrete assistance, to experience a “true pilgrimage” on foot, and to send “missionaries of mercy” throughout the world to forgive even the most serious of sins, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella.
The year-long extraordinary jubilee will also include several
individual jubilee days, such as for the Roman Curia, catechists,
teenagers and prisoners, said Archbishop Fisichella, President of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, the office
organising events for the Holy Year of Mercy.
During a news conference at the Vatican on 5 May, Archbishop
Fisichella unveiled the official prayer, logo, calendar of events and
other details of the special holy year, which will be celebrated from 8
December 2015 until 20 November 2016.
The motto, Merciful Like the Father, he said, “serves as an
invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not
to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness
Pope Francis announced in March his intention to proclaim a holy year
as a way for the Church to “make more evident its mission to be a
witness of mercy”.
One way the Pope wants to show “the Church’s maternal solicitude” is
to send out “missionaries of mercy” – that is, specially selected
priests who have been granted “the authority to pardon even those sins
reserved to the Holy See”, the Pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus, (“The
Face of Mercy”), the document officially proclaiming the holy year.
Archbishop Fisichella said the priests will be chosen on the basis of
their ability to preach well, especially on the theme of mercy, and be
“good confessors”, meaning they are able to express God’s love and not
make the confessional, as Pope Francis says, like “a torture chamber”.
The priests will also have to “be patient” and have “an understanding of human fragility”, the Archbishop said.
Bishops can recommend priests to the council from their own dioceses
to serve as missionaries of mercy, and priests themselves can submit
their request to serve, he said.
When a priest volunteers, however, the council will confer with his
bishop to make sure he would be “suitable for this ministry” and has the
bishop’s approval to serve temporarily as a missionary of mercy, he
The Archbishop emphasised the importance of living the holy year as
“a true pilgrimage”, with the proper elements of prayer and sacrifice.
“We will ask pilgrims to make a journey on foot, preparing themselves
to pass through the Holy Door in a spirit of faith and devotion,” he
More than a dozen individual jubilee celebrations will be scheduled
in 2016, such as a jubilee for consecrated men and women on 2 February
2016 to close the Year of Consecrated Life; a jubilee for the Roman
Curia on 22 February 2016; a jubilee for those devoted to the
spirituality of Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday, 3 April 2016; and
separate jubilees for teenagers; for deacons; priests; the sick and
disabled; and catechists.
A jubilee for “workers and volunteers of mercy” will be celebrated on
Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata’s feast day on 5 September 2016 and a
jubilee for prisoners will be celebrated on 6 November 2016.
Archbishop Fisichella said the Pope wants the jubilee for inmates to
be celebrated not only in prisons, but also with him in St Peter’s
Basilica. He said the council is discussing the possibility with
government authorities and is not yet sure if it can be done.
The Vatican is asking bishops and priests around the world to conduct
“similar symbolic gestures of communion with Pope Francis” and his
vision of reaching out to those on the margins.
“As a concrete sign of the Pope’s charitable love,” he said,
“effective measures will be taken to meet real needs in the world that
will express mercy through tangible assistance.”
At the news conference, the council distributed copies in several
languages of the holy year prayer and logo, which features Jesus – the
Good Shepherd – taking “upon his shoulders the lost soul, demonstrating
that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of
his incarnation culminating in redemption”, the Archbishop said.
The image, created by Jesuit Fr Marko Rupnik, also shows one of
Jesus’ eyes merged with the man’s to show how “Christ sees with the eyes
of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ”.
The council has joined with the United Bible Societies to distribute
to pilgrims one million free copies of the Gospel of Mark; the texts
will be available in seven languages.
The Jubilee of Mercy has an official website in seven languages at
www.im.va; a Twitter handle @Jubilee_va; a Facebook page; and accounts
on Instagram, Flickr and Google+. – CNS