Pope francis has called on Catholics to “experience joy of grace” during the Year of Mercy, which began on Tuesday as the Pontiff opened the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict XVI was among those in attendance when Francis opened the door.
Before opening the door, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Square, with an estimated crowd of 50,000 in attendance.
In his homily, Pope Francis said that opening the Holy Door was a “simple… yet highly symbolic act” carried out “in the light of the word of God”. “This Extraordinary Holy Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy,” the Pope said.
“In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.”
In reference to the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope said: “We remember the opening of another door: the Second Vatican Council, a true encounter between the Church and men and women of our time.”
Pope Francis announced the extraordinary Jubilee dedicated to mercy in March.
He has said that he will allow priests around the world to absolve women who confess to having had abortions, which is a faculty normally reserved for bishops.
During the Year of Mercy, Francis is also sending “missionaries of mercy” throughout the world to forgive even the most serious of sins.
These specially selected priests have been granted “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See,” the Pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus, the document officially proclaiming the Holy Year.
Top cardinal to testify at trial
The pope’s “number two” has been called to testify on behalf of the defendants in the Vatileaks trial.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, is one of several high-profile officials called to take the stand after a request by Francesca Chaouqui, an Italian public relations consultant.
The judges said officials would only be asked to testify on specific matters regarding the case and not as character witnesses for Chaouqui.
The other officials called to testify are Cardinal Santos Abril Castello, president of the cardinal’s commission that oversees the Vatican Bank; Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner; Auxiliary Bishop Augusto Lojudice of Rome; and Mgr Alfredo Abbondi, an official at the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Under the Vatican criminal code, it is a crime to take, distribute and publish confidential documents.
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