Pope says Church to return to basics in Holy Year proclamation

Sat Apr 11, 2015 3:30pm EDT
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By Steve Scherer

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Saturday proclaimed an extraordinary Holy Year starting in December that he said will bring the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers back to basics, focusing them on the need to show mercy toward others.

In a ceremony held at St. Peter's Basilica before the Holy Door, a massive bronze door decorated with panels depicting human sin and God's mercy, the pope presented a document known as a papal bull to cardinals.

The papal bull outlined the pope's vision for the Holy Year, one of the Church's most important events, which he declared in a surprise announcement last month.

Holy Years normally take place every 25 years unless a pope decrees an extraordinary one to bring attention to a particular issue. The next one had been scheduled for 2025.

"It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters," Francis wrote in the document, titled "Face of Mercy" in Latin.

In his homily after the ceremony, Francis said a Holy Year was necessary "because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God's presence and closeness".

During the last Holy Year -- or Jubilee -- in 2000, millions of pilgrims came to Rome to take part in religious festivities.

The papal bull indicated that Francis intends to focus this Jubilee on many of the themes that have embodied his papacy, including that the Church should be poor and that its mission is to serve the poor.   Continued...

Pope Francis (R) leads the Vespri prayer in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi