Frequently Asked Questions About the Year of Mercy
What is Jubilee Year in the
Traditionally, every 25 years the popes
proclaim a jubilee year, which features special celebrations and pilgrimages, strong
calls for conversion and repentance, and the offer of special opportunities to
experience God’s grace through the sacraments, especially confession. Extraordinary
holy years, like the Jubilee Year of Mercy, are less frequent but offer the same
opportunities for growth. The last Jubilee Year was called by St. John Paul II in
Why did Pope Francis announce a
Jubilee Year of Mercy?
When Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy
during a Lenten penance service in March 2015, he said that he wanted people to lose
any fear they might have of sacramental confession, regardless of sins committed in the
past. “I frequently have thought about how the Church can make more evident its mission
to be a witness of mercy,” Pope Francis said. “The greater the sin, the greater the
love, which the Church must express toward those who convert.”
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What is a Jubilee
Each of the four papal basilicas in Rome (St.
Peter’s Basilica, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls) is
designated as a Jubilee Church; one can obtain the Jubilee Indulgence by making a
pilgrimage to one of them and fulfilling the other necessary conditions. The Basilicas
of the Holy Land are also traditionally Jubilee Churches. Furthermore, each diocese
around the world has designated at least one Jubilee Church. In the Diocese of Colorado
Springs, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Corpus Christi are Jubilee Churches. Each Jubilee
Church has a Holy Door that was sealed prior to the start of the Jubilee Year. In the
Diocese of Colorado Springs, Bishop Michael Sheridan opened the Holy Doors the weekend
of Dec. 12-13, signifying the start of the Holy Year.
What is the significance of the
The Holy Door that is found in every Jubilee
Church is meant to signify a path to God’s mercy that everyone can follow. The doors of
the Church “are wide open so that all those who are touched by grace can find the
certainty of forgiveness,” Pope Francis said in announcing the Jubilee Year.
What is an indulgence?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins
whose guilt has already been forgiven.” (CCC, No. 1471) In general, the gaining of
indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions and the performance of certain
prescribed works. To gain indulgences, it is necessary for a person to be in a state of
grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed. They should also go to
Confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the Pope’s intentions within 20 days of
performing the indulgenced work.
What work must a person perform to receive the Year of Mercy plenary indulgence?
Catholics can receive the Year of Mercy
plenary indulgence by visiting a Jubilee Church (St. Mary’s Cathedral and Corpus
Christi in the Diocese of Colorado Springs), reciting a profession of faith (such as
the Apostles Creed), and saying a prayer for the pope’s intentions (such as the Our
Father or the Year of Mercy Prayer). They can also receive the indulgence by performing
one of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy and fulfilling the other conditions for
People who are homebound or in prison can still
receive the Year of Mercy Indulgence. The sick and elderly can receive the indulgence
by offering up their suffering and participating in Mass via television or some other
means. Prisoners can receive the indulgence by “directing their thought and prayer to
the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell,” Pope Francis said, which
symbolizes passing through the Holy Door.
What are Missionaries of Mercy and why are they important?
Missionaries of Mercy are priests appointed
by Pope Francis to be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in
search of his pardon.” During the Year of Mercy, they will preach, lead spiritual
retreats and hear confessions. In the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Father Mark Zacker,
Father Francisco Quezada, Father Andrzej Szczesnowicz and Msgr. Ricardo
Coronado-Arrascue have been appointed Missionaries of Mercy.
When does the Year of Mercy end?
The Year of Mercy ends on Nov. 20, 2016,
which is the Feast of Christ the King.