On the 2nd anniversary of his election to the See of Peter, Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year “of Mercy”.

The Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the 8 December 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. The Jubilee will conclude on 20 November 2016, Christ the King (in the Novus Ordo calendar).

He will promulgate the Bull proclaiming the Jubilee on the Sunday after Easter, “Divine Mercy”.

The last major Jubilee was announced by St. John Paul II for the Year 2000. Generally Jubilees come every 25 years or so, but there have been special Jubilees, such as that of 1983.

Francis made the announcement in the context of a penance service with individual confessions.

Pope Francis has spoken often and with great warmth about the need for the Sacrament of Penance. He gave a magnificent testimony to how important making a good confession is when, last year, again in the context of a penance service, he made his own confession at one of the confessionals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The theme of “mercy” has been strong in this pontificate.

However, we must always remember that mercy cannot be separated from the truth. We cannot set aside the truth of Catholic doctrine in the name of mercy, because that would falsify mercy. Similarly, we cannot approach God seeking mercy without first discerning the truth about ourselves, our state of soul, our sins, the harm we have done to ourselves, to neighbors and to God’s love. Furthermore, mercy is not the enemy of justice. God’s justice we will receive whether we want it or not. God cannot be other than just. However, mercy is always there for the asking, provided that we do so with honesty and humility.

A Year of Mercy is an inspired idea. It reminds me strongly of something that Benedict XVI might have implemented. That said, there is no question that the theme of mercy has resonated constantly during the Pope Francis’ pontificate, even in his choice of motto, Miserando atque eligendo.

francis confession



Yes, the Holy Father made his own confession also this evening.  This time, however, he was not in his own surplice and stole, just his house cassock.

Then he heard confessions:


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  1. mburn16 says:

    Interesting. Because there will alnost certainly be an extra jubilee in 2033 as well. I was too young to seriously understand the 2000 Jubilee….individual parishes are also supposed to designate a Holy Door of their own to be opened on the Jubille, are they not?

    Also – The Pope has apparently dropped a strong hint he doesn’t intend to be around very long. Two years into his Pontificate, he is talking about only being Pope for 4-5 years total.

  2. Dominicanes says:

    As a Dominican I must say this is wonderful news as the Order of Preachers will be celebrating our 800th anniversary during the time of the Jubilee. The preaching of the Order from the very beginning has had a special “theme” of reconciliation and of mercy. We invoke our Lady as “mother of Mercy” each evening at the Salve and each Dominican is asked when receiving the habit and making profession, “What do you ask?” and the answer is “God’s mercy and yours”

    So, the Jubilee Year will give extra depth to our anniversary!

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    I wish things like this were coming from Rome all the time instead of the doublespeak we have been hammered with.

  4. Pingback: Catholic News Bite: A Jubilee Year! | Living Adventurously

  5. Didacus says:

    Dear Fr. Z! Do you have any interesting stories regarding the previous Holy Fathers habits of confession? To whom do they confess, &c?

  6. Gerard Plourde says:

    Regarding statements about a short pontificate- I think that given the fact that he would be about 81 by that time he’s being realistic. The Church needs the See of Peter to be in strong hands. There was opportunity for much mischief in the last years of St. John Paul’s reign.

  7. DisturbedMary says:

    Didacus, your question to Fr. Z about John Paul II and confession reminded me of this Scott Hahn story about the Pope and the beggar priest.

  8. gracie says:

    I find this news depressing. The word “mercy” constantly is linked with the sentence, “Who am I to judge?”. Numerous people over the past 2 years – both online and among friends and family – say they like Pope Francis because he’s so “merciful” with his “WAITJ” comment – as opposed to mean-spirited, enforcer-of -the-rules Pope Benedict XVI (and the Catholic Church in general). This Mercy-themed Jubilee will ramp that attitude up 1000 percent.

  9. Random Friar says:

    I recently saw a video a priest had done of him waiting woefully at the Confessional with nobody coming. The music in the background: “All by Myself.”

    This picture reminds me of that. Come on, people, less picture taking, and more confessing! ;)
    Actually, I am somewhat curious as to what languages the Holy Father would normally hear confessions in, as there are no language signs. Spanish, Italian and…?

  10. Andrew says:

    In this year of mercy it might be good to be reminded of the “hardness of heart” that allows divorce to tear apart and wreck lives. “He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce.” (Matt. 19:8)

  11. Aquinas Gal says:

    I like this idea, but I’d like it even better if it were presented as a Year of Repentance and Mercy. Otherwise it could turn into a Year of Cheap Grace.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If you think about it, the whole concept of mercy presupposes that one does have a right to judge. Of course, the one with that right is primarily God….

  13. iamlucky13 says:

    “I find this news depressing. The word “mercy” constantly is linked with the sentence, “Who am I to judge?””

    Don’t let a devotion to the reverence and imitation of God’s mercy be distorted, least of all in your own mind, by those who would work to distort it. One of the devil’s more clever tricks is his ability to get good people to oppose good things by making us associate them with bad things. I’ve seen him pull off the same trick of convincing, for example, many conservative Christians that the corporal works of mercy are little more than liberal enabling of sloth.

    Keep in mind, God saw it as necessary for us to be aware of, pray for, and trust in His mercy to that point that in our own modern age, He appeared to Saint Faustina and Himself commissioned the Divine Mercy image, a simple, but very efficacious reminder of this. For our part, we need to be able to convey accurately what His mercy actually means and why it does not mean simply turning a blind eye to sin.

  14. acardnal says:

    Video here from “Rome Reports”. Lovely penitential background music.

  15. Netmilsmom says:

    WoooHoooo! Mercy for the FFI and SSPX!
    Mercy is easy when it is towards your friends. Not so much when it’s against your grain.

    Go Holy Father!!

  16. majuscule says:


    My thought too. I hear over and over from some supposedly Catholic sources about mercy mercy mercy. But never a word about repentance. Just accept us as we are with no need to change.

    John 8:11: She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”

    They quote the first part and not the last.

  17. Didacus says:

    Thank you DisturbedMary! Beautiful story!

  18. sirmaab says:

    What is a Year of Mercy? What’s involved?

  19. fionam says:

    @gracie @majuscule I share your misgivings. I know I should be elated by this news but I’m not. I cannot help but think that this is tied to the Synod on the Family. I can just picture those bishops who stand firm on issues at the Synod having the upcoming ‘Jubilee of Mercy’ thrown in their faces and being labelled as ‘unmerciful’, if they don’t agree to go along with the agenda of certain parties. I truly hope that I am wrong.

  20. Gail F says:

    I heard Cardinal Rodriguez speak about Pope Francis last week. He said that “mercy” is key to understanding Pope Francis, as is evangelization to the entire world, especially the poor and forgotten, including people who are nominally Christians. My impression of the pope — aside from people who want to spin it one way or the other — is that he wants everyone to be on fire with the message of faith and forgiveness; that he wants all people everywhere to encounter Christ and the message that God loves them despite their messed-up lives and their sins. He knows what is clearly true: That today people’s lives are all tangled and messed up because of sins they committed when they didn’t know, or perhaps didn’t care, that they were doing so. How can you fix having three children by three different fathers? How can you fix moving in with a woman and having a baby with her while you are still legally married otto someone else? How can you fix being a gay model who has had many lovers? How can you fix what people do these days? I don’t think Pope Francis wants to tell people that the things they did or are still doing are all right, he wants them to know that it’s not too late for them, that God still loves them, and that they can make things right in some ways even if not in all ways. That’s what I get from Pope Francis and if that’s correct, then I think he’s right.

    I have neighbors that are married and have one child. Each of them also has a child with another person (not a previous spouse) — one of whom is the same age as their child. Their child lives in the house; one of the others comes for holidays, the other has at times lived with them full-time, and at times gone to the other parent. That’s what IS, that’s how they live. They can’t “fix” that and make it okay. But they could, if invited and loved, order the rest of their lives toward God and show those three children how to live happier and moral lives in communion with Christ. They could end this fractured and ever-more-fracturing type of family and moral disintegration and return, broken but loved, to the kind of life and faith that brings spiritual and physical flourishing. I think that’s what Pope Francis is all about, and if that’s correct then I want to be with him. Is it correct? I know it might not be. I do the only thing I can do, which is to pray and wait and watch.

  21. TNCath says:

    This announcement makes me nervous. I fear that the theme of the Holy Year is going to be used to help manipulate the results of the upcoming Synod. Is this “Year of Mercy” a means to help further the cause of Cardinal Kasper and Company? It certainly seems fishy to me. To paraphrase the late great Bette Davis: “Fasten your seat belts: it’s going to be a bumpy [Holy Year}.

  22. anna 6 says:

    I suppose that that I am also what Ross Douthat might call a “Francis fretter”, and am not proud that I have a sense of unease about the connection of the synod and the Year of Mercy.

    Something else to consider that is not often discussed-
    Pope Francis is coming to the US during this jubilee year for the “World Meeting of Families” (just before the synod), which as Benedict conceived it, may have had a different emphasis.

    Thank goodness that Chaput is the archbishop in charge. I pray that he gets a red hat out of it! The Church needs more like him.

  23. MarkJ says:

    I am currently reading the final Notebook of St. Faustina’s “Divine Mercy in My Soul”. It is an amazing diary and a message that needs to be proclaimed far and wide. I am thrilled with the Holy Father’s announcement of a Jubilee Year of Mercy, and I look forward to helping to spread the Good News of the Divine Mercy. I understand that this is also to be the theme of the next World Youth Day in Poland! Please, please, if you have not read St. Faustina’s Diary, make a commitment to do this soon to prepare for this great Jubilee. To quote St. Faustina from the diary (Paragraph 1590): “Praise, O my soul, the incomprehensible mercy of God. May all be for His glory.” Amen to that!

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