Pope: May Rome be its most welcoming, hospitable, and generous during Jubilee

Pope Francis addresses the Mayor of Rome and the city administration as it prepares to host the 2025 Jubilee. Highlighting how the Jubilee spirit is one of inclusion of the last in society, he announces he will open a Holy Door in a prison.

Jun 11, 2024

Pope Francis and the Mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, admire the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Hill (Vatican Media)

By Linda Bordoni 
Pope Francis crossed the River Tiber on Monday morning after having accepted the Mayor of Rome’s invitation to visit the Capitoline Assembly as the city gears up to host the 2025 Jubilee Year.

During his discourse to the Mayor and his administration, the Pope expressed gratitude for the excellent collaboration between the Holy See and the Municipality and for the latter’s commitment to preparing the city to welcome the pilgrims in the best possible way.

Rome, he noted, is a city with a universal spirit “at the service of charity, at the service of hospitality and welcome that extends from pilgrims to tourists, to migrants, to those in grave difficulty: the poorest, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, the excluded” whom, he added,  “should be the most truthful witnesses of this spirit.”

“They should testify that authority is fully such when it serves everyone, when it uses its legitimate power to meet the needs of the citizens, particularly the weakest, the last.”

The Pope delivered his speech in the Hall of Flags after having been heralded by trumpets as he arrived at the magnificent Capitoline Square designed by Michelangelo on the Hill of the same name. The Capitoline – referred to in Rome as the “Campidoglio” is the seat of the Municipality; it overlooks the Roman Forum, where Pope Francis and the Mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, paused before the signing of the Book of Honour, the exchange of gifts and the start of the ceremony.

Incredible history of the city of Rome
Highlighting the incredible history of the city, the Holy Father said: "I come to meet you and, through you, the entire city, which almost since its birth, about 2,800 years ago, has had a clear and constant vocation of universality."

Noting that "Ancient Rome, due to its legal development and organizational capabilities, and the construction over the centuries of solid and lasting institutions, became a beacon to which many peoples turned for stability and security."

He upheld the many virtues of ancient Roman culture, and emphasized the need for its values to evolve: "This ancient Roman culture, which undoubtedly experienced many good values, also needed to elevate itself, to confront a message of greater and deeper fraternity, love, hope, and liberation."

The values of Christianity
Pope Francis dwelt on how the spread of Christianity within Roman society, driven by the testimonies of martyrs and the charity of early Christian communities; and said Christianity offered individuals a radical hope and challenged institutions, like slavery, that were once deemed natural and unchangeable.

The Pope spoke of the transformation from the Rome of the Caesars to the Rome of the Popes and said that despite the changes, Rome’s universal vocation was not only confirmed but elevated, with the Church’s mission extending beyond geographical boundaries to proclaim Christ’s message globally.

"Many things changed, but Rome's vocation to universality was confirmed and exalted," he said.

“Many things changed, but Rome's vocation to universality was confirmed and exalted,”

Lateran Pacts
Noting that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the revision of the Lateran Pacts, Pope Francis said, "The Treaty reaffirmed that the Italian State and the Catholic Church are, 'each in its own order, independent and sovereign,' committing to the full respect of this principle in their relations and mutual collaboration for the promotion of man and the good of the country."

Inclusivity of Jubilee Year
Thus, as Rome prepares for the Jubilee of 2025, the Pope called for the city's readiness to welcome the influx of pilgrims and tourists and said active cooperation between local and national authorities cannot but benefit all.

"Even the next Jubilee can have a positive impact on the face of the city, improving its decorum and making public services more efficient, not only in the centre but also fostering the rapprochement between centre and peripheries," he said.

Holy Door
Reiterating Rome's universal spirit, dedicated to charity, hospitality, and serving those in need, including the poor, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, and the excluded, he announced his intention to open a Holy Door in one of Rome’s Prisons during the Jubilee Year.

“I have decided to open a Holy Door in a prison.”

Concluding, Pope Francis encouraged Rome to continue to showcase its true, welcoming, and noble character.

Jubilee Year: a privilege and a responsibility
He acknowledged the challenges posed by the influx of visitors and offered a new perspective for the city, explaining that the immense cultural and historical wealth of Rome is both a privilege and a responsibility for its citizens and leaders.

"Every problem it faces is the 'reverse' side of its greatness and, from a factor of crisis, it can become an opportunity for development: civil, social, economic, cultural," he said.

“From a factor of crisis, it can become an opportunity for development.”

Salus Populi Romani
Finally, he called for strengthened cooperation among all governing bodies to honour the city’s providential role and recalled his own devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani.

“Every time I came to Rome, I would visit the Salus Populi Romani and ask her to accompany me in my endeavours,” the Pope said, invoking her blessing and praying that she may “watch over the city and the people of Rome, infuse hope and inspire charity." --Vatican News

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