Pope Francis has asked that Holy Doors be opened in every Catholic cathedral in the world to mark the start of the Year of Mercy.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, said such an action, scheduled for this Sunday, would be a first for a jubilee year.
Archbishop Fisichella was speaking at a press conference before the Year of Mercy formally began on Tuesday.
He revealed a number of features of the Year, including:
– On one Friday every month the Pope will carry out a “symbolic gesture” related to a work of mercy. He will begin with a “strictly private” visit to a Caritas shelter in Rome.
– Every evening in front of the statue of St Peter in St Peter’s Square, groups will take turns in reciting the rosary.
– In addition to the Pope’s Wednesday general audience, he will hold a special general audience one Saturday a month.
– Special confessionals with wheelchair access will be available in St Peter’s Basilica and other Roman churches. Audio, video and “tactile-book” resources will be available for people with a visual or hearing impairment.
– Pilgrims who wish to walk through the Holy Door at St Peter’s or take part in other major jubilee events in Rome will have to pre-register in order to receive the free tickets. This can be done online at www.im.va or in person at the pilgrim information centre at Via della Conciliazione 7.
Vatican officials said that 800 priests had put themselves forward as “missionaries of mercy” in different parts of the world.
Church leaders call for prayers after mass shooting
Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California, has urged people to pray for unity and healing after a mass shooting left 14 people dead.
“For those who lost their lives, we pray for their eternal rest and God’s strength to their loved ones left behind; for those who are wounded, we pray
for their health and healing,” he said.
The bishop called on people to pray for “all of the victims of this horrific incident and their families”.
“Our community of San Bernardino has faced great challenges through the years. Let us come together now in unity to bring light to the darkness of this day,” Bishop Barnes said.
The shooting took place at a centre for individuals with developmental disabilities where health officials were having a staff party.
Two armed suspects, later identified as Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were killed by police four hours later.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said “each innocent life lost” in the shooting was precious.
“Each was intimately connected through family and friendship to many others, who now survive them and bear a burden of unearned suffering.”
Peru celebrates new Blesseds
An estimated 30,000 people gathered at a stadium in Chimbote, Peru, on Saturday for the beatification of three European missionaries.
Two Polish Franciscans, Fr Michał Tomaszek and Fr Zbigniew Strzałkowski, and Fr Alessandro Dordi from Italy, were killed by Shining Path guerrillas in 1991.
The work of the Franciscan priests included helping the locals build a water pipe and organising supplies during a severe drought.
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