May 14, 2024 // National

Pope Proclaims 2025 Holy Year, Saying People Need Truth, Goodness, Hope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In the run-up to the Holy Year 2025, Pope Francis appealed to the world’s Christians to become joyful heralds of hope in a world marked by fear and despair.

“Each of us needs hope in our lives, at times so weary and wounded, our hearts that thirst for truth, goodness, and beauty, and our dreams that no darkness can dispel,” the pope said.

“Everything, within and outside of us, cries out for hope and continues to seek the closeness of God, even without knowing it,” he said in his homily during an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday, May 9, the feast of the Ascension.

The service was preceded by a formal ceremony in the marble atrium in front of the basilica’s Holy Door during which the pope released the “bull of indiction” proclaiming the Holy Year 2025.

The document, titled Spes Non Confundit (“Hope Does Not Disappoint”), formally announced the jubilee celebration would begin with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 24 this year and end on January 6, 2026, the feast of Epiphany.

The Holy Year is meant to help the faithful deepen their relationship with Jesus, “the ‘door’ of salvation, whom the Church is charged to proclaim always, everywhere, and to all as ‘our hope,’” the document stated.

In his homily during vespers, the pope emphasized the unique nature of Christian hope, which is “based on Christ who died and rose again” and which “we wish to celebrate, ponder, and proclaim to the whole world in the coming jubilee.”

Christian hope is a gift “that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,” he said, and “it sustains the journey of our lives, even when the road ahead seems winding and wearying.”

“It opens our eyes to future possibilities whenever resignation or pessimism attempts to imprison us. It makes us see the promise of good at times when evil seems to prevail,” he said. “It fills us with serenity when our hearts are burdened by sin and failure. It makes us dream of a new humanity and gives us courage in our efforts to build a fraternal and peaceful world, even when it seems barely worth the effort.”

During this Year of Prayer in preparation for the celebration of the jubilee, he said, “let us lift up our hearts to Christ and become singers of hope in a civilization marked by too much despair.”

“By our actions, our words, the decisions we make each day, our patient efforts to sow seeds of beauty and kindness wherever we find ourselves, we want to sing of hope, so that its melody can touch the heartstrings of humanity and reawaken in every heart the joy and reawaken the courage to embrace life to the full,” he said.

Everyone needs hope, he said. Hope is needed where people only care about the here and now, by those who are caught up in individualism or “who look to the future with anxiety and fear.”

“Hope is needed by God’s creation, gravely damaged and disfigured by human selfishness,” he said.

“Hope is needed by the Church, so that when she feels wearied by her exertions and burdened by her frailty, she will always remember that, as the Bride of Christ, she is loved with an eternal and faithful love, called to hold high the light of the Gospel, and sent forth to bring to all the fire that Jesus definitively brought to the world,” he said.

“May the Lord, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, grant us the grace to rediscover hope,” Pope Francis prayed, and “to proclaim hope and to build hope.”

Holy Year Indulgences

Pilgrims passing through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica during the Holy Year, going to confession, receiving Communion, and praying for the intentions of the pope can receive an indulgence, but so can many others, including inmates in prison and those who work to defend human life or assist migrants and refugees.

Fasting “at least for one day of the week from futile distractions” such as social media also can be a path toward a jubilee indulgence, according to norms published by Vatican officials on Monday, May 13.

For centuries, a feature of holy year celebrations has been the indulgence, which the Church describes as a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for their sins.

The norms for receiving
an indulgence during the Holy Year were signed by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the new head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience and with the granting of indulgences.

The basic conditions, he wrote, are that a person is “moved by a spirit of charity,” is “purified through the sacrament of penance and refreshed by Holy Communion,” and prays for the pope. Along with a pilgrimage, a work of mercy or an act of penance, a Catholic “will be able to obtain from the treasury of the Church a plenary indulgence, with remission and forgiveness of all their sins, which can be applied in suffrage to the souls in purgatory.”

The Rome pilgrimage, Cardinal De Donatis said, can be to the papal basilicas of St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, or St. Paul Outside the Walls – but also to one of the churches connected to outstanding women saints and Doctors of the Church: St. Catherine of Siena at the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva; St. Brigid of Sweden at Campo de’ Fiori; St. Teresa of Avila at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria; St. Thérèse of Lisieux at Trinità dei Monti; and St. Monica at the Church of St. Augustine.

Pilgrims to the Holy Land also can receive the Holy Year indulgence by praying at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, or the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

For those who cannot travel abroad, local bishops around the world can designate their cathedral or another church or sacred place for pilgrims to obtain the indulgence, the cardinal wrote, asking bishops to “take into account the needs of the faithful as well as the opportunity to reinforce the concept of pilgrimage with all its symbolic significance, so as to manifest the great need for conversion and reconciliation.”

People who cannot leave their residence – “especially cloistered nuns and monks, but also the elderly, the sick, prisoners, and those who, through their work in hospitals or other care facilities, provide continuous service to the sick” – can spiritually join a pilgrimage and receive the indulgence, according to the norms.

Visiting the sick or a prisoner, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or welcoming a migrant, “in a sense making a pilgrimage to Christ present in them,” can be another way to receive the indulgence, the cardinal said, adding that an indulgence could be obtained each day from such acts of mercy.

“The Jubilee Plenary Indulgence can also be obtained through initiatives that put into practice, in a concrete and generous way, the spirit of penance which is, in a sense, the soul of the jubilee,” he wrote, highlighting in
particular abstaining on Fridays from “futile distractions” like social media or from “superfluous consumption” by not eating meat.

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