Pope Francis has invited Catholics to experience in a new and deeper way the joy of giving and receiving mercy during the Jubilee year. In this way, he believes, the Church will be more effective at witnessing to God’s mercy. It is impossible to be genuinely merciful towards others, or even be fully aware of the needs of others, without having deeply experienced the loving mercy of God for ourselves. “Mercy is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its centre. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!” – Pope Francis, homily announcing the Jubilee Year Year of Mercy Begins: Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015 Ends: Christ the King, November 20, 2016 The Pope has authorised special ‘missionaries of mercy’, priests who are known for their inspiring preaching, love and compassion, to preach and minister the Sacrament of Reconciliation around the world through the year. They will be able to grant absolution for sins that often or always required the intervention of the local bishop or a Vatican court, such as performing an abortion or violating the Eucharist. Our Jubilee Heritage Jubilee years are rare and important events in the Catholic tradition. It’s a year of reconciliation, hope, justice, and peace. It has roots in the Jewish tradition and the Old Testament. In the Law of Moses every 50th year was to be set aside as a special year to express and respond to God’s love. Slaves were liberated and returned to their homes, people released from their debts, land returned to its original owners, and families reunited. Land cultivated for food was left fallow to regenerate. The year would open with the blowing of a goat’s horn called a Yobel – which is where we get the English word Jubilee. The Mystery of Mercy Mercy was a primary theme of Pope Francis’ papacy from its first day. In his papal bull announcing the Year of Mercy the Pope wrote of mercy as a “mystery” with several aspects: “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” The Holy Door Tradition Pilgrims who visit St Peter’s Basilica can enter through its Holy Door which represents a new avenue of grace available to the faithful. Holy Doors are also available in every local church, cathedral and other churches of special significance, and popular shrines as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.