Vatican City, 4 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, along with Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas and Msgr. Graham Bell, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery, presented the organisation of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016) and the ways in which the faithful and pilgrims will be able to participate, also explaining some of the initiatives linked to this event which is intended to show how “mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life”.
With regard to the most immediate organisational aspects of the Jubilee, Archbishop Fisichella said that a Reception Centre for Pilgrims has been open in Via della Conciliazione 7 from 1 December. “It is a place where information can be obtained on the Jubilee programme, for registering for the pilgrimage to the Holy Door, for collecting tickets for the various events for which a free access ticket is required, and for collecting the 'testimonium' of participation in the Jubilee”. He emphasised that only the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation is authorised to certify presence at the Jubilee and in the pilgrimage on foot, via the information point. Any other certificate issued by other entities is not to be considered authentic. The Centre will be open from 7.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. every day, including Saturday and Sunday.
An important contribution will be given by volunteers, who will provide a reception and help service to all pilgrims, especially in Via della Conciliazione, St. Peter's Square, in the other Basilicas and in the Jubilee Churches. The number of volunteers will rise to 800 to 1000 at major events. The archbishop also commented that a collection of Pastoral Resources prepared by the Pontifical Council is now complete in ten languages, including Ukrainian and Korean.
With regard to the Mass and opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, “the celebration will take place in St. Peter’s Square beginning at 9:30 a.m. It will be introduced by readings taken from the four Conciliar Constitutions (Dei Verbum, Lumen gentium, Sacrosanctum concilium e Gaudium et spes), along with two passages taken from Unitatis redintegratio on ecumenism and Dignitatis humanae on religious liberty”. He continued, “As is well known, this day will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. The reading of these passages is intended to recall the profound teaching which came forth from that event, and its continued significant importance for the life of the Church. It was an event that we cannot forget and was reflected upon and achieved over the course of three intense years, in the light of mercy, as Pope Francis himself reminded us in the Bull, citing Saint John XXIII and Blessed Paul VI. In the procession for the Eucharistic celebration will be carried the Book of the Gospels prepared specifically for the Jubilee by P. Rupnik and published by San Paolo editions. It is a work of art on whose cover is a mosaic reproduction of the Jubilee logo. This Book of the Gospels will be set on the same podium which stood by the altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica during all the sessions of the Council to make evident to everyone the primacy of the Word of God”.
The ceremony for the opening of the Holy Door, “which is very simple, will be broadcast on television worldwide. The Holy Father will request the opening of the Door, and he will then pass through it. After him, the Cardinals, Bishops, and representatives of priests, religious men and women, and laity will cross its threshold, and will continue in procession to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, where the concluding rite of the Holy Mass will take place. The Pope will then lead the Angelus as usual from the window of the Apostolic Palace”.
“The evening of December 8th will conclude in St. Peter’s Square with a meaningful and unique presentation entitled “Fiat lux: Illuminating Our Common Home”. It will be a projection of photographs onto the façade and cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica, taken from a repertoire of some of the world’s great photographers. These illuminations will present images inspired of Mercy, of humanity, of the natural world, and of climate changes. The show is sponsored by the World Bank Group (Connect4Climate), by Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Productions, by the Li Ka-shing Foundation and by Okeanos”.
“On Sunday, December 13, for the first time in the history of the Jubilee Years, Holy Doors will be opened cathedrals all over the world. … Pope Francis will open the Holy Door of his Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran, with the liturgy beginning at 9:30 a.m”.
“The following Friday, December 18, the Holy Father will perform a symbolic gesture as he opens the Door of Mercy at the Hostel 'Don Luigi Di Liegro', managed by Caritas of Rome, located on Via Marsala. For 25 years, persons in grave need, who require our help, have been received at this hostel. With this first gesture the Holy Father will begin a series of symbolic actions that will take place on one Friday of the month, and which he intends as concrete expressions of the works of mercy.
“Beginning on the day of the opening of the Holy Door and throughout the entire Jubilee, the Rosary will be recited daily in St. Peter’s Square in front of the statue of St. Peter. Various parishes in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and Religious Institutes present in Rome with a particular consecration to the Mother of God, along with various Institutes of formation, will take turns leading this Rosary”.
Archbishop Fisichella also mentioned the healthcare services available for pilgrims. In each of the four Papal Basilicas there will be a First Aid Station. “In addition, in St. Peter’s Basilica and in other Churches, confessionals have been set up without structural barriers, and with other considerations to facilitate confessions for the deaf and hard of hearing. Furthermore, there is also a touch book planned in A3 format that will permit the blind and partially-sighted to be guided through the Pilgrimage to the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. Finally, the internet site has also been equipped with facilitated navigation”.
This official website of the Jubilee (http://www.im.va), translated into seven languages, “will permit those who cannot be physically present to follow the Major Jubilee events that will take place in Rome. To register for the passage through the Holy Door, and likewise to become a volunteer, it is necessary to enrol on the indicated sections of the site. In addition, I believe it opportune here to say a few words about the Portal “vatimecum”, endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, by means of which pilgrims may obtain services relating to room and board in Rome at controlled prices, along with a great deal of other information about living the Jubilee”.
“The initiative of the 'Missionaries of Mercy' merits a final consideration”, added the prelate. “The Missionaries are priests who come from various parts of the world, and who were proposed by their own bishops to carry out this special service. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, they will receive the mandate from the Holy Father to be preachers of mercy and confessors full of mercy. They will receive from the Holy Father the faculty to forgive sins reserved to the Holy See, and will be the sign of the closeness and pardon of God for all. It is important for me to underscore that the Missionaries of Mercy are appointed exclusively by the Holy Father, and that the faculty of forgiving reserved sins will be given to each one of them personally. No bishop in his own diocese may appoint these Missionaries, nor may he confer faculties that he does not possess”.
“The Jubilee is already at hand”, concluded Archbishop Fisichella. “We are certain that it will be lived intensely by pilgrims who, whether it be in their own Particular Churches or in Rome, will cross through the Holy Door. For this occasion the Holy Father has granted all the Bishops of the world the power to give the Papal Blessing at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Holy Door, and for the closure of the door at the end of the Holy Year. This Jubilee will be an experience of mercy for each person to feel more intimately the love of God, who like a Father welcomes everyone and excludes no one”.