Prisoners may celebrate their Holy Year with the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica, says the Vatican official collaborating with the Pope for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
At a press conference held this morning at the Holy See Press Office on the Holy Year of Mercy, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, shared new developments with the press on what to expect.
This Extraordinary Jubilee, announced by Pope Francis on April 11, starts Dec. 8 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the day on which the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica will be opened, and ends Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Between the two dates, a calendar of various events is being developed, he noted.
The Vatican official encouraged those gathered to re-read the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee, Misericordiae vultus, in which Pope Francis details the aims of the Holy Year. On how to stay posted on Holy Year developments, he noted the official website for the Jubilee has already been launched: www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va, saying it can also be accessed at www.im.va. Available in seven languages–Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Polish–, the site provides official information regarding the calendar of the major public events, information for participating in the events with the Holy Father, and all of the official communications regarding the Jubilee.
Moreover, through the site, dioceses will be able to receive information and pastoral suggestions, register pilgrimage groups, and relay to us their local diocesan projects. The website uses a number of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Flickr) through which, he said, the Vatican will be able to provide updates on the Pope’s initiative and follow in real time the major events as they take place.
He added that they are studying the possibility of an app with which to better integrate all this information.
“In order to avoid any misunderstanding, it is important to reiterate that this Jubilee of Mercy is not and does not intend to be the Great Jubilee Year of 2000. Therefore, any comparisons lack validity, for every Holy Year possesses its own unique nature and aims.
He also pointed out that the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is unique from the other extraordinary jubilees. While they fell on anniversaries, this is based on a theme.
“It is the Pope’s desire that this Jubilee be celebrated in Rome as well as in the local Churches; this will give due focus to the life of individual Churches and their needs, in such a way that the initiatives will not place an extra burden on local Churches, but will blend into their calendars and usual activities very naturally.”
“Also, for the first time in the history of the Jubilee tradition, ” he said, “there will be an opportunity for individual dioceses to open a Holy Door – The Door of Mercy – either in the Cathedral or in a church of special meaning or a shrine of particular importance for pilgrimages.”
“We thought it would be important to gather together believers who live in a particular way the experience of mercy,” Archbishop Fisichella said, before outlining some specific events that will take place during the year.
On April 3, we will have a celebration for those who in various ways are inspired “by a charism of mercy,” in movements, associations, and religious institutes.
On Sept. 4, charitable volunteers will gather from all over the world. “A volunteer is a dynamic witness of someone who lives the works of mercy in its various expressions and deserves to be celebrated in this special way,” he said.
“For those who are inspired in a particular way by Mary,“ he said, on Oct. 9, there will be a special day on Oct. 9 to celebrate her as the Mother of Mercy.
There will be a number of events dedicated particularly to youth, who, he noted, “upon receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation are called to profess their faith.”
Turning to youth, the Vatican official pointed out that for those between the ages of 13 and 16, there are few opportunities for involvement within the ordinary pastoral life of the Church. Given this, he said, they have reserved the date of April 24 for them, months before World Youth Day, which will be held in Krakow, July 26-31, and “is geared toward youth of an older age bracket.”
On May 29, A jubilee will be held for deacons “who by their vocation and ministry are called to preside in works of charity in the life of the Christian community.”
For the 160th anniversary of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 3, he said that there will be a Jubilee celebration for priests.
On Sept. 25, there will be the Jubilee of catechists who, “in transmitting the life of faith, support Christian communities and, in particular, our parishes in a decisive way.”
On June 12, he said there will be a large gathering for the sick and disabled, and those who care for them.
On Nov. 6, we will celebrate the Jubilee for those in prison. “This will be held not only in prisons, but we have been studying the possibility of giving many of those in prison the opportunity to celebrate their own Holy Year with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica.”
“There will significant efforts to enact Pope Francis’s vision and witness of reaching out to those on the existential ‘peripheries’ of society, in order to give a direct testimony to the Church’s affinity and care for the poor, the suffering, the marginalized, and all those who need a sign of tenderness,” he said.
These moments, the archbishop stressed, will have a symbolic meaning, noting bishops and priests will be asked to perform, in their own dioceses, similar symbolic gestures of communion with Pope Francis “so that everyone may receive a concrete sign of the Church’s ministry of mercy and closeness.”
Another main priority, Archbishop Fisichella also stressed, is meeting the needs of the many pilgrims who will come alone to Rome apart from any organized tour or tour group.
“For these individuals, there will be a number of churches in the historic center of Rome where they will feel welcome, where they can have moments of reflective prayer and prepare themselves thoroughly to walk through the Holy Door in an atmosphere of genuine spiritual devotion,” he said.
All the pilgrims who will come to Rome, he said, will have a privileged route through which to walk through the Holy Door, adding, “This is necessary in order to ensure that the event is lived in a religious way, safe from any climate of abuse that can easily confront millions of people making a pilgrimage to Christian holy sites.”
“We are convinced that the path of Mercy on which Pope Francis has placed the Church in this journey of the Jubilee will be a moment of true grace for all Christians and a re awaking to the path of the new evangelization and the pastoral conversion the Pope has indicated.”