ROME – Pope Francis announced in a letter on Friday that hope will be the central theme for the upcoming Jubilee Year 2025, expressing his desire for the year to foster a greater sense of global brotherhood and solidarity with the poor, as well as taking care of the environment.
After two years marked by the coronavirus pandemic and the crisis it has left in its wake, “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given to us and help everyone find strength and certainty as they look to the future. with an open mind, a spirit of trust. heart and foresight,” the pope said in his letter.
The coming Jubilee “can go a long way in restoring an atmosphere of hope and confidence as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth we so earnestly desire”, he said. “That is why I have chosen as the motto of the Jubilee, ‘Pilgrims of Hope.'”
Dated February 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the letter was addressed to Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, responsible for organizing the Jubilee.
The very first “Holy Year” was instituted by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300 and was first celebrated every 100 years. Then, following biblical tradition, it was marked every 50 years, and it was finally decided by Pope Paul II in 1490 to observe the jubilee year every 25 years, so that everyone could experience one during their lifetime. life.
The jubilees, designed to be a time of conversion and increased emphasis on God’s mercy and forgiveness of sins, are marked by the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Doors, present in each of the four papal basilicas in Rome, are destination points for pilgrims who travel to Rome during the Jubilee and who pass through to seek special graces and outpourings of God’s mercy.
The last Ordinary Jubilee was the Great Jubilee of 2000, celebrated by Pope John Paul II.
A new custom of calling jubilees “extraordinary”, i.e. outside the 25-year rotation, and which can last from a few days to a few months, began in the 16th century. There have only been a handful of extraordinary jubilees since, the latest being the 2015-2016 Jubilee of Mercy convened by Pope Francis.
The Holy Year 2025 will be the 27th Ordinary Jubilee Year of the Catholic Church.
“As the first twenty-five years of the new century draw to a close, we are called to enter a season of preparation which can enable the Christian people to experience the Holy Year in all its pastoral richness,” the pope said. Francois.
This will only happen, he said, “if we are able to rediscover the sense of universal brotherhood and refuse to close our eyes to the drama of endemic poverty which prevents millions of men, women, of young people and children to live in a way worthy of our human dignity”, in particular migrants and refugees forced to flee their homes.
“May the voice of the poor be heard throughout this time of preparation for the Jubilee, which aims to restore access to the fruits of the earth for all,” the pope said.
“We are all pilgrims on this earth,” he said, and urged the faithful to make a special effort to care for creation during the Jubilee, saying, “may we never miss, at during our stay, to contemplate the beauty of creation and the care of our common home.
“A growing number of men and women, including many young people and children, have realized that care for creation is an essential expression of our faith in God and our obedience to his will,” he said. declared.
Pope Francis urged Fisichella to coordinate with the local Latin and Eastern Rite Churches in a spirit of synodality in accordance with the current Synod of Bishops devoted to this subject, and “in order to be ever more fully a sign and a instrument of unity in harmonious diversity.
He stressed the importance of everyone’s “responsible participation”, citing as resources the four apostolic constitutions of the Second Vatican Council and the main papal documents of the last decades.
These documents, he said, “will continue to provide direction and guidance to the holy people of God, so that they may go forward in their mission to bring the joyful proclamation of the gospel to all “.
Francis said a bull of indiction outlining guidelines for the 2025 Jubilee celebration will be released “in due course.”
By way of introduction, the Pope asked that the year 2024 be dedicated to prayer, “above all, to renew our desire to be in the presence of the Lord, to listen to him and to adore him”.
While preparations for the Jubilee of 2025 are just beginning, there are few details regarding the specifics of how the Holy Year will be observed. However, Pope Francis has implemented several novelties for his extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that could also be presented as part of the 2025 event.
Among other things, it allowed dioceses and shrines to designate holy doors through which pilgrims could pass without having to travel to Rome and allowed all priests to absolve the sin of abortion, which previously could not be absolved only with the permission of the local bishop.
Francis also allowed priests of the Schismatic Society of Pope Pius X to validly hear confessions in the Catholic Church, and he expanded indulgences – the full remission of the temporal consequences of a person’s sins after they have been absolved – available to the faithful during holy year.
He also instituted the Missionaries of Mercy, a ministry in which priests who assume the role can roam freely to hear confessions, give lectures, and offer special counsel related to the theme of God’s mercy.
Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen