“This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no-one”

In his Letter on the Jubilee Indulgence, released today (1st September 2015), Pope Francis has announced ways in which people of various situations can receive the Jubilee Indulgence. The Holy Father has made it clear that he wishes the Jubilee to be something very special for all who enter into the spirit of the Jubilee –

“I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy”

Reflecting the Divine Mercy which the Jubilee celebrates, the Pope has ensured that no group of people is excluded from receiving the spiritual benefits of the Jubilee. He notes his awareness that many people are unable, for a variety of reasons, to travel to Rome (or even to a Cathedral Church or designated place with a Door of Mercy) in order to obtain the Indulgence. And so, the Pope has arranged ways in which different people can receive the Indulgence.

For the sick, the elderly and the alone, the Pope notes that “living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence.”

And for prisoners, the Holy Father says that “they may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”

The Pope has been keen to stress a return to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Reminding the faithful of these once more, he notes that “each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity.”

The Holy Souls in Purgatory are likewise remembered in the Jubilee of Mercy, with the Pope noting that the Indulgence can be applied to these suffering souls – “as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.”

Mindful, too, of those faithful who are not in full communion with Rome, and referring specifically to the members of the Fraternity of St Pius X, the Pope has extended a fraternal hand by saying – “through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”

Finally, the Holy Father has been giving consideration to the state of those involved in the act of abortion, whether women who have had an abortion or those performing one. He notes that no-one who is truly sorry for their sins should have forgiveness denied them, and so he writes – “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”

This is a quite extraordinary Letter from the Holy Father and I cannot recall having read anything similar to it. Here, the Pope truly tries to reflect the mercy of the Face of the Father in Heaven.

God’s mercy is denied to no-one who seeks it with genuine contrition – this is the very message of Divine Mercy and is the core of the Gospels. However, we do sometimes prevent God from granting us His mercy – often, perhaps, because we do not believe how limitless that mercy is and, at other times, by believing that our personal situation prevents us from receiving it. In this Letter, Pope Francis opens roads of mercy to various people who may find themselves in such situations – I pray that many will avail themselves to walk these roads and to seek and obtain the fullness of Divine Mercy.

The full text of the Letter can be read HERE.