Recall God’s grace, says Francis, as Year of Mercy opens11 December 2015 | by Christopher Lamb
The Church must put mercy before judgement, Pope Francis said before officially inaugurating the Jubilee Year which he stressed continues the legacy of the Second Vatican Council.
“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgement before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy,” the Pope said during a homily at a Mass before opening the Holy Door of St Peter’s. “But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgement, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy.”
The Jubilee Year of Mercy coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II, which the Pope described as a “great advance in faith” that impelled the Church to emerge from the “shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed”. He said the Jubilee challenges the Church to the openness of the council and to harness its spirit, which he said was that of the Good Samaritan.
“[Vatican II] was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces,” the Pope said. “Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel.”
The Jubilee opened in Rome amidst tight security and a heavy police presence, with each pilgrim wanting to enter St Peter’s undergoing searches. The city is on high alert for a possible terrorist attack, particularly given the expected influx in tourism.
The Jubilee lasts until 20 November 2016 and, along with St Peter’s, cathedrals across the world will have designated doors pilgrims can walk through and receive forgiveness for their sins through an indulgence. They also need to go to confession, attend Mass, say the Creed and pray for the Pope and his intentions.
In ancient Jewish tradition, Jubilee Years were times when slaves were freed and property returned to the original owners.
Francis unofficially launched the Year of Mercy by opening the Holy Door of Bangui Cathedral, in the war-torn Central African Republic on 29 November, a sign that he hopes the coming months can provide concrete examples of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Vatican has said that on one Friday of each month through the year, the Pope will undertake symbolic acts of mercy starting on 18 December when he opens the door of mercy at the Hostel “Don Luigi Di Liegro”, run by Caritas of Rome.
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