The Jubilee of Mercy, with which Pope Francis intended to draw attention to the boundless love of God and his free pardon, was greeted by many believers with enthusiasm and gratitude: about 20 million pilgrims arrived in Rome on the occasion of the Holy Year, and it is not possible to count exactly how many others participated with faith in this extraordinary event, in different places of the Earth, when the holy Doors were opened in all the dioceses of the world.
The opening of the Jubilee
The opening of the Holy Door first took place November 28, 2015, in the Cathedral of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, a country marked by suffering, poverty, injustice also linked to clashes between religions: there the Pope gave an early start to the the Jubilee of Mercy which was offically opened later on the 8 December.
However unusual the choice may seem (for the first time in history, a jubilee was not opened in Rome), it is perfectly in line with the style and sensitivity of Pope Francis. Since the beginning of his pontificate, he has been particularly attentive to the poor, the marginalized and those who have suffered from wars. It was, therefore, a symbolic gesture. "In this suffering land represents all the suffering of the world - the Pope said - To all those who unjustly use weapons of this world, I launch an appeal: put off these instruments of death; arm yourself instead of justice, love and mercy, genuine guarantees of peace. "
The Jubilee of Mercy: a symbol for the world, not only for the Church
With this initiative, the Pope entered into the social public discussion the issues of mercy, acceptance and forgiveness. The worlds’ media - and just the Catholic ones - paid particular attention to the initiative of the pope. Suffice it to say that the opening of the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy was broadcast worldwide live in UltraHD technology and the media coverage achieved in this sacred year was unprecedented.
The Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications and Director of CTV, Dario Viganò, explained in an interview that the pope "is naturally fascinating. [...] The strength is not so much the technology but rather a man who has a message, a message that has the weight of the truth of his story. "
The Jubilee also did not fail to impact many from outside sources. Interesting, for example, that one of the major US newspapers (and of international interest) the The New York Times published opinion pieces about the meaning of the jubilee year, which explained, amongst other things, that the pope does not want "an intellectual agreement to mercy, but calls for a profound change in our way of being."
News related to the Jubilee on topics that usually would have triggered heated debate between Catholics and non-Catholics were presented with seriousness and respect even from newspapers that have different positions from those of the Church.
For example, the secular newspaper El Pais, known to consider abortion an inalienable right of women, (read, for example, Ten reasons not to change the abortion law, the government can not legislate to please his conservative electorat e ), speaks of the Pope's decision to extend to every priest a chance to absolve those who have committed or procured abortion without arguing or reaffirm the legitimacy of abortion; indeed, they are reported in full the words of the Pope, for whom abortion is "a grave sin" and cites the experience by the pope with women who carry in their hearts "great suffering due to that choice" (see The Pope extends the authorization of forgiveness to women who have had abortions).
The Jubilee, then, was told as a true newsworthy story and not just as a topic concerning only the Catholics. Sometimes, the press has conveyed the same message that the Pope wanted to convey. In this regard, we think, for example, that the closure of the Jubilee (which took place November 15, 2016), in an article in the Republic appeared in the title the exact words of the Pope: "Never get used to discarding those people". They are just some examples that reveal how values such as the ability to bend over to the weak, to forgive and to accept, not to judge the other were presented and in some cases even promoted in the secular press.Mercy and family
The 2016 year was dedicated especially to the family. The crisis that the family institution is in fact facing all over the world, was at the center of the concerns of the Church and does not seem a coincidence that the special pastoral interest demonstrated by the Pope to the family coincided temporally with the Jubilee year. The Pope believes that the family is the first place where merciful love should be experienced. This is apparent in particular in Amoris Laetitia document, released in 2016, written by Francis at the conclusion of the synod devoted to the family, in which the pontiff deepens the vocation of married couples, called to realize a love that contemplates overcoming one's own self-interest to give way to proximity, patience, and understanding. The theme of mercy (ability to bend over the weaknesses of others) and forgiveness occupy a central place in the document. Particular attention was paid to families’ wounds: they reiterated the pope on several occasions; the ecclesial community should view them with compassion. If, in fact, families are called to become a place of mercy and to be the mirror of God on Earth, it is also true that they are human and therefore fragile institutions: the Pope then invited pastors and church communities to show them the love of a God who heals. "No one - reiterates the pontiff in his Amoris Laetitia - should feel excluded from the love of the Father. It is to integrate everyone, - says - you have to help everyone to find their own way to participate in the ecclesial community, because he feels the subject of mercy undeserved, unconditional and free."
The pope's summary: the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera
At the end of the Jubilee, the Pope wrote an Apostolic Letter, Misericordia e Misera, in which he reiterated and summarized some content already expressed during the Holy Year. Among the points made by the pope, there are: the bondless and gratuity of divine mercy, and the preliminary value of the law. For the pope, which follows the style of Jesus presented in the Gospels, is that the law that must be for man, not man a slave of the law. When Jesus appears to an adulteress, says Francesco fact, "they do not meet sin and judgment in the abstract, but a sinner and the Savior." In this document the pope invites all priests to welcome and accompany the faithful in need and authorizing them to pardon the sin of abortion, just to make more accessible the mercy of God. Finally, in the document the pope establishing the World Day of the Poor, in the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time. Here again the concern of Francis for the poor is evident. "Until Lazarus lying at the door of our home (cf. Lk 16.19 to 21) - he said - there can be no justice or social peace."