The bull is the fundamental document for the Holy Year that outlines the overall spirit and intentions for the Jubilee, as well as the spiritual fruits that are hoped for. The 28-page bull, titled “Misericordiae Vultus” or “The Face of Mercy” opens with the declaration, “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.”
In the document, Pope Francis says the Holy Year is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy” which God “constantly extends to all of us.” He explains the year will begin on December 8 to commemorate both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which called the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the world in new ways, bringing God’s mercy to everyone.
After the Holy Door of St Peter’s is open on December 8, the Holy Doors of the other papal basilicas will be opened in subsequent days. As well, as a sign of communion of the whole Church, the pope has requested that every diocese in the world open a similar “Door of Mercy” for the local celebrations of the Jubilee.
The document develops three main themes.
First, Pope Francis elaborates the theological understanding of God’s mercy, explaining the role of mercy in the life of people and of the Church, who are both the beneficiaries and the witnesses to God’s mercy in the world. He recalls that the motto of the Holy Year is “Merciful like the Father.” “The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child,” the Pope writes.
As a second theme, the Pope offers practical ways to live well the Holy Year: go on pilgrimage as an “impetus to conversion”; do not judge or condemn but forgive and give, avoiding gossip, envy and jealousy; have a heart open to the fringes of society and bring consolation, mercy and solidarity to people who live in precarious situations; take up the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy with joy; and observe the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which encourages prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation, in every diocese during Lent.
He also addresses confessors, encouraging them to be “authentic signs of the Father’s mercy.” And, during Lent of the Holy Year, the Pope says he will send out “Missionaries of Mercy”–priests to whom he will grant “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” They will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon,” he writes.
As a third theme, the Pope issues particular calls for justice and conversion. He asks members of criminal organizations and those involved in corruption to change their lives and to embrace God’s mercy.
The pope concludes the bull with an invocation to Mary, witness to God’s mercy and recalls saint who dedicated their lives to making God’s mercy known, namely the Polish St Faustina Kowalska.
As with all Jubilees, a plenary indulgence is granted during the Holy Year of Mercy for those who fulfill all of the usual requirements.
The Holy Year will conclude on November 20, 2016, on the feast of Christ the King.
Click here to read the full text of the Papal Bull.
Source: Vatican Radio