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Pope puts stress on mercy for Jubilee Year

VATICAN (SE): “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by spiritual and corporate works of mercy,” Pope Francis says in a letter to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, on September 1.

Released for publication on the same day by the Vatican Press Office, the pope recognises the validity of absolution from priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X; gives a plenary indulgence to the sick who cannot leave home or go to Mass; to prisoners, whose cell doors can symbolically represent the Holy Door; and a Jubilee Indulgence to those who perform works of mercy.

The pope is also granting all priests the power to absolve the sin of abortion, which is referred to in canon law as a reserved sin, so only those priests commissioned by the bishop can give absolution to anyone who confess it.

However, in Hong Kong, as well as in many other Church jurisdictions around the world, the bishop has extended this authority to all priests who have faculties in the diocese.

“It is indeed my wish,” the pope writes, “that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.”

He mentions the traditional way of obtaining a plenary indulgence—entering the Door of Mercy in Rome or a diocesan cathedral or in an established sanctuary; through the sacrament of reconciliation; communion; profession of faith; or praying for the pope’s intentions.

He gives a special mention to people for whom it is physically impossible to enter the Holy Door and reaches out to women who have had an abortion, saying that the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented.

Pope Francis says, “One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life.”

Speaking in Manila Cathedral on September 1, Luis Cardinal Tagle described abortion as a loss of the sense of the value of life.

“If you are not useful anymore, you are dropped. It is not a contemplation of human dignity. Even people are measured by profitability that is why children being conceived in the womb can be aborted,” the archbishop of Manila said.

Pope Francis adds, “The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe that they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision.”

The pope also hopes there can be a general amnesty for those “who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society.”

He says that prisoners may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence in the chapels of prisons or by directing their thoughts and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell.

Pope Francis says that if the mercy of God can transform hearts, it can certainly transform prison bars into an experience of freedom.

The sick, as well as elderly people and those who are alone can receive the indulgence if they accept suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord.

“For them, it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness,” Pope Francis says.

The pope is highlighting the virtue of mercy during this Holy Year and says that each and every act of mercy can attract an indulgence.

“The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity,” the pope says.

He also extended an olive branch to the St. Pius X Fraternity, saying that those who approach their priests during this year for the sacrament of reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive absolution.


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