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Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 11, 2022
Pope Francis closes the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica to mark the closing of the jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican in this Nov. 20, 2016, file photo. The pope wrote a letter explaining his hopes for the Holy Year in 2025. (CNS photo/Tiziana Fabi, pool via Reuters)

Pope Francis has set in motion the preparations for the Jubilee Year 2025, which he believes “can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth that we so urgently desire” after two years of pandemic and suffering.

He chose “Pilgrims of Hope” as the motto for the Holy Year and, on Jan. 3, entrusted Italian archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, with the responsibility for organizing this event, which is hoped to bring millions of pilgrims from all over the world to Rome.

To further encourage the preparatory effort, Francis today sent a letter to Archbishop Fisichella, positioning this jubilee as a year in which “we must fan the flame of hope that has been given us and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and a farsighted vision.”

Pope Francis has set in motion the preparations for the Jubilee Year 2025, which he believes “can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust” after two years of pandemic and suffering.

He recalled that every country in the world has suffered over these past two years because of the pandemic that “made us experience firsthand not only the tragedy of dying alone, but also the uncertainty and fleetingness of existence, and in doing so, has changed our very way of life.”

Christians, he said, “together with all our brothers and sisters” across the globe, “have endured those hardships and limitations. Our churches remained closed, as did our schools, factories, offices, shops, and venues for recreation. All of us saw certain freedoms curtailed, while the pandemic generated feelings not only of grief, but also, at times, of doubt, fear and disorientation.” Thankfully, he said, the scientific community “quickly developed an initial remedy that is gradually permitting us to resume our daily lives.”

Writing on Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Francis struck a distinctively positive note by declaring, “We are fully confident that the pandemic will be overcome, and that the world will return to its usual pattern of personal relationships and social life.”

“This will happen more readily to the extent that we can demonstrate effective solidarity,” he said, so that “those most in need will not be neglected, and everyone can have access to scientific breakthroughs and the necessary medicine.”

“We are fully confident that the pandemic will be overcome, and that the world will return to its usual pattern of personal relationships and social life.”

He emphasized the need “to recover the sense of universal fraternity” and “to refuse to turn a blind eye to the tragedy of rampant poverty that prevents millions of men, women, young people and children from living in a manner worthy of our human dignity.” He also called for greater attention to the plight of “the many refugees forced to abandon their native lands.”

In his letter, Pope Francis emphasized that “the spiritual dimension of the Jubilee, which calls for conversion, should also embrace these fundamental aspects of our life in society as part of a coherent whole.” He said it should include care for creation—“our common home”—and noted that “growing numbers” of men, women, young people and children, “have come to realize that care of creation is an essential expression of our faith in God.”

He asked Archbishop Fisichella to “find suitable ways” for the Holy Year “to be planned and celebrated with deep faith, lively hope and active charity” and to stimulate the pastoral outreach of the local churches and intensify their commitment to synodality.

Pope Francis concluded:

I would greatly desire that we devote 2024, the year preceding the Jubilee event, to a great “symphony” of prayer. Prayer, above all else, to renew our desire to be in the presence of the Lord, to listen to him and to adore him. Prayer, moreover, to thank God for the many gifts of his love for us and to praise his work in creation, which summons everyone to respect it and to take concrete and responsible steps to protect it. Prayer as the expression of a single “heart and soul” (cf. Acts 4:32), which then translates into solidarity and the sharing of our daily bread. Prayer that makes it possible for every man and woman in this world to turn to the one God and to reveal to him what lies hidden in the depths of their heart. Prayer as the royal road to holiness, which enables us to be contemplative even in the midst of activity.

This is the second jubilee year convened by Pope Francis. But unlike the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, the forthcoming one will be an ordinary jubilee, which takes place every 25 years.

Pope Francis said, “God’s holy and faithful people” have experienced the jubilee celebration “as a special gift of grace, characterized by the forgiveness of sins and, in particular, by the indulgence, which is a full expression of the mercy of God.”

Pope Francis: “I would greatly desire that we devote 2024, the year preceding the Jubilee event, to a great “symphony” of prayer.”

The last ordinary jubilee took place in the year 2000 and was opened by Pope John Paul II as humanity entered the new millennium. Millions of people came to Rome then, including thousands of young people. Pope Francis hopes Jubilee 2025 could witness something similar.

Archbishop Fisichella, who successfully organized the 2015 Jubilee Year of Mercy, told Vatican News on Jan. 13 that “one of the priorities concerns the reception of pilgrims and the faithful, with a large number of pilgrims expected in Rome during the Holy Year—in the hope that in the next two years the health emergency will no longer affect activities as it does today.”

A jubilee year is a special year of grace, in which the church offers the faithful the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence. Traditionally, it begins just before Christmas and ends on the Epiphany of the following year.

The pope inaugurates the Holy Year with the rite of the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. After that, the Holy Doors of the other papal basilicas—St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major—are opened and remain so until the end of the jubilee year.

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