Frequently Asked Questions About the Year of Mercy

What is Jubilee Year in the Catholic Church?

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 2000.

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.”

St. Mary's Cathedral
22 W Kiowa St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: (719) 473-4633

Corpus Christi
2318 N Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 633-1457

What is a Jubilee Church?

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 Holy Door?

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 an indulgence.

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.