Καθολικός διάκονος: Anticipating an Extraordinary Jubilee: Utah deacon Scott Dodge's reflections on Pope Francis' announcement of the Jubilee of Mercy starting on December 8, 2015 the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Deacon Dodge:
First and foremost Pope Francis describes how all the faithful may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. In his letter the Holy Father expresses his “wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting the sin forgiven.” Indulgences are not a thing of past, but remain an important practice of Christian faith. Once again, I encourage everyone to read Bl Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina.
Pilgrims to Rome for the Jubilee can obtain the Jubilee Indulgence by making a pilgrimage to one of the four Papal Basilicas and churches “traditionally identified as Jubilee Churches” each of which will have a Door of Mercy. Every Cathedral in each diocese will have a Holy Door to which one can make a pilgrimage. Only a brief visit, made as expression of one’s “deep desire for true conversion,” is requested. I expect miracles.
The Holy Father makes provision for those who are ill and elderly. In a deeply moving passage in his letter, Pope Francis makes it possible for prisoners to obtain the Jubilee Indulgence by making prison chapels sites on par with Papal Basilicas, Jubilee Churches, and Cathedrals.
Those fluent in Italian can read a Roman tourism article describing the Jubilee pilgrimages here. In the same letter Pope Francis allows all priests to absolve women who've had abortions. This made, in case you missed it, some stir in the media. The Holy Father also, for the Jubilee year, recognizes as valid and licit confessions heard by priests of the Society of St. Pius X. This is, Dodge notes, is quite surprising to our human sensibilities, but not so much when considered from the scope of divine mercy.
Read all of the Deacon's post here.
So there's one image of Pope Francis: the great reacher-outer, the great inclusionist. As Deacon Dodge concludes, c'mon, people, it's not that difficult. He.is.evangelizing. And may God sustain him so for many years to come.
On the other hand, Pope Francis hasn't thrown the baby out with the bath water. Church teachings on the family, sexuality, women's ordination--nothing's changed there. You would think somebody would've read the memo by now. The. Pope. is. Catholic. This is not a newsflash. In fact, as Dodge notes, it's because the Pope is very much Catholic that the Jubilee of Mercy reaches out to so many different groups: women who regret abortions, prisoners, the SSPX, pilgrims to Rome. And really all of us; we are all sinners.
And still God, through Pope Francis, extends the call home. Symbolized by Bernini's colonnade at St. Peter's, the Church's arms still reach out to all.