A time to strengthen and share hope

Pope Francis has officially proclaimed the Holy Year 2025, inviting the faithful to experience a deep renewal of God’s love and hope in Christ.

May 24, 2024

Consigning the Bull of Indiction. (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has officially proclaimed the Holy Year 2025, inviting the faithful to experience a deep renewal of God’s love and hope in Christ. “The time has come for a new Jubilee when once more the Holy Door will be flung open to invite everyone to an intense experience of the love of God that awakens in hearts the sure hope of salvation in Christ,” the Pope announced.

In a document titled Spes Non Confundit (Hope Does Not Disappoint), the Pope emphasised that Christians must “abound in hope” to be credible witnesses of God’s love. He outlined various ways to demonstrate this hope, including welcoming migrants, visiting prisoners, advocating for peace, opposing the death penalty, and supporting the young and disadvantaged.

The document, called a “bull of indiction,” specifies that the Holy Year will open at the Vatican on December 24, 2024, and conclude on January 6, 2026, the Feast of Epiphany. Pope Francis also urged bishops worldwide to inaugurate the Holy Year in their dioceses on December 29, 2024, and to celebrate its conclusion on December 28, 2025.

During a ceremony on May 9 in front of the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica, the Pope handed the document to key church officials, symbolising the opening of a new chapter of faith and hope. Msgr Leonardo Sapienza read excerpts from the document, which calls for the faithful to recognise and foster signs of hope amid global challenges like war, environmental destruction, and economic difficulties.

“Hope is born of love and based on the love springing from the pierced heart of Jesus upon the cross,” Pope Francis wrote in the document. In a world seemingly marked by war, divisions, environmental destruction, and economic challenges, hope can seem hard to come by, he said. But “Christian hope does not deceive or disappoint because it is grounded in the certainty that nothing and no one may ever separate us from God’s love.”

He urged people to seek signs of hope in their surroundings. “We need to recognise the immense goodness present in our world, lest we be tempted to think ourselves overwhelmed by evil and violence.” People’s yearning for peace, their desire for a relationship with Jesus, and growing concern for the environment are all signs that hope still exists, the Pope wrote.

The theme for the Holy Year is “Pilgrims of Hope,” and in the document, Pope Francis called on Catholics not only to strengthen their own sense of hope but also to “be tangible signs of hope for those of our brothers and sisters who experience hardships of any kind.”

Listing prisoners as the first category of people in need of hope, the Pope expressed his desire to open a Holy Door in a prison, although he provided no further details. He asked governments worldwide to consider jubilee amnesty and pardon programmes and urged greater efforts to assist those who have completed their sentences in returning to society.

He called on all Catholics, especially bishops, to “be one in demanding dignified conditions for those in prison, respect for their human rights, and above all the abolition of the death penalty, a provision at odds with Christian faith and one that eliminates all hope of forgiveness and rehabilitation.”

Pope Francis also called on the Church to take special care of young people, who are supposed to be “the embodiment of hope,” but often seem overwhelmed by “an uncertain and unpromising future.” Migrants, who leave their homelands in search of a better life for themselves and their families, also need support to keep their hope alive, he said, adding that “their expectations must not be frustrated by prejudice and rejection.”

Pilgrims of hope should also help the souls in purgatory, the Pope wrote as he introduced a discussion on a key feature of jubilee celebrations: indulgences, which the Church describes as a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for their sins.

“The evil we have done cannot remain hidden; it needs to be purified to enable this definitive encounter with God’s love,” the Pope said. “Here we begin to see the need for our prayers for all those who have ended their earthly pilgrimage, our solidarity in an intercession that is effective by virtue of the communion of the saints, and the shared bond that makes us one in Christ, the firstborn of all creation.”

“The Jubilee indulgence, thanks to the power of prayer, is intended in a particular way for those who have gone before us, so that they may obtain full mercy,” Pope Francis wrote. — Agencies

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