Pope Francis opened his Jubilee of Mercy yesterday, saying that this year will be one in which Catholics are called to grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy, which should always come before judgment, reports Crux.
“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy,” he said as he celebrated a Mass in St Peter’s Square that marked the opening of the jubilee.
“We have to put mercy before judgment,” he added.
After Mass, Francis opened the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica.
At the invitation of Francis, a noticeably frail Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was present during the ceremony. He arrived in the atrium of St Peter’s Basilica 20 minutes before the end of the Mass, where he waited for his successor, who gave him a hug before heading toward the door.
The Holy Door is traditionally bricked up until it’s opened to mark the beginning of a jubilee year. This was the first time in history that two Popes were present for the ceremony.
After Francis pushed open the heavy bronze door, he went through and waited for his predecessor, who was flanked by his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein. Once inside, they hugged again.
In the past, popes would traditionally strike the door three times with a silver hammer before throwing it open. However, St John Paul II decided to eliminate that ritual for the opening of the jubilee in 2000, and Francis followed suit.
Explaining the Holy Year to a square that was mostly full despite cold temperatures and light rain, Francis said that it’s a gift of grace.
Photo: Pope Francis opens the Holy Door to mark opening of the Catholic Holy Year in St Peter's Basilica (Reuters)
Full text of Pope’s homily inaugurating Year of Mercy (The Catholic Herald)