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What does the Bull of Indiction of the 2025 Jubilee say?

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RICCARDO ANTIMIANI | AFP

I.Media - published on 05/09/24

Calls for peace, to fight declining birth rates, Christian unity... These are some of the themes the Pope outlines for the 2025 Jubilee in his "Bull of Indiction."

“Hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5). This is the promise that Pope Francis makes in light of the 2025 Jubilee in his “Bull of Indiction,” published on May 9, 2024. In this nearly 10-page text, the Pontiff sets out the spiritual course for the upcoming “Holy Year,” which will officially begin on December 24, and is expected to move millions of Catholics to “set out” toward Rome on a journey of faith and a “quest for meaning in life.” 

Following in the great tradition of Jubilees that have marked the history of the Church since 1300, the Pope took this opportunity to call for the remission of sentences and debts in the world, for peace, and for caring for those who are most vulnerable.

Against a backdrop of the demographic collapse in the West, he also invites humanity to respond to “the loss of the desire to transmit life” and declining birth rates. On a religious level, he notes his hope that 2025 can mark a breakthrough in the search for Christian unity, especially in regard to agreeing on a common date for Easter

The Pope arrived in the late afternoon in front of the “holy door” of St. Peter’s Basilica, a monumental bronze portal that is usually only opened every 25 years. There, Francis handed over the Bull of Indiction to 10 Catholic leaders before listening to the reading of large excerpts from the document, in front of an audience of some 200 cardinals, bishops, and lay people gathered in the atrium of the Vatican basilica.

Later in the year, on Christmas Eve, the Pontiff will be the one to open the holy door and then the 2025 Jubilee will end on January 6, 2026.

“Everyone knows what it is to hope. In the heart of each person, hope dwells as the desire and expectation of good things to come, despite our not knowing what the future may bring. Even so, uncertainty about the future may at times give rise to conflicting feelings, ranging from confident trust to apprehensiveness, from serenity to anxiety, from firm conviction to hesitation and doubt. Often we come across people who are discouraged, pessimistic and cynical about the future, as if nothing could possibly bring them happiness. For all of us, may the Jubilee be an opportunity to be renewed in hope. God’s word helps us find reasons for that hope. Taking it as our guide, let us return to the message that the Apostle Paul wished to communicate to the Christians of Rome.”

I.MEDIA summarizes the Pope’s key messages in the Bull ‘Spes non confundit‘ – “Hope does not disappoint.”

Follow the Jubilee with the official website here.

Forgive debts and give pardons

In line with the appeals made by his predecessor Saint John Paul II during the 2000 Great Jubilee, Pope Francis is reviving the theme of debt cancellation for underdeveloped countries.

“Let us commit ourselves to remedying the remote causes of injustice, settling unjust and unpayable debts, and feeding the hungry,” urges the first pope from the southern hemisphere.

He issued a “heartfelt appeal” to affluent nations, asking them to “acknowledge the gravity of so many of their past decisions and determine to forgive the debts of countries that will never be able to repay them.”

Citing the concept of “ecological debt” addressed in his encyclical Laudato si‘, the Argentine Pontiff denounced the “disproportionate use of natural resources” and calls for a rebalancing of relations between North and South in order to be able to hope for a peaceful future. 

He calls for solidarity with “the billions of the poor, who often lack the essentials of life” and for the “migrants who leave their homelands behind in search of a better life for themselves and for their families.”

In keeping with the Jubilee tradition, the Pope also proposes that governments restore hope to prisoners by implementing “forms of amnesty or pardon meant to help individuals regain confidence in themselves and in society; and programmes of reintegration in the community.”

Pope Francis writes in the bull that he wishes to open a Holy Door in a prison himself.

A Jubilee to disarm a suffering world

Pope Francis insists that the 2025 Jubilee must enable us to reconnect with long term plans and to break with “our fast-paced world” where “we are used to wanting everything now.”

Calling for patience, he asks us to make this year a sign of hope in the face of the many sufferings that afflict humanity, particularly those caused by war.

As an advocate for those suffering from these conflicts, the Pope “dream[s] that arms can fall silent” during this Holy Year, and encourages diplomacy to “be tireless in its commitment to seek, with courage and creativity, every opportunity to undertake negotiations aimed at a lasting peace.”

As he has done in the past, he also calls for the creation of a “global fund that can finally put an end to hunger,” to be financed “with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures.” 

Declining birth rates and a future for young people

The Pope emphasized his growing concern about the demographic crisis in the West, by expressing in this bull of indiction an invitation to respond to the “alarming decline in the birthrate.”

The Pope deplores “the loss of the desire to transmit life” and “the empty cradles in so many parts of our world.” He also lists various causes such as “today’s frenetic pace, fears about the future, the lack of job security and adequate social policies, and social models whose agenda is dictated by the quest for profit.”

More profoundly, he affirms that man “cannot rest content with getting along one day at a time, settling for the here and now and seeking fulfillment in material realities alone.”

“This leads to a narrow individualism and the loss of hope; it gives rise to a sadness that lodges in the heart and brings forth fruits of discontent and intolerance,” he said.

As a warning, the Pontiff reminds governments and believers alike that “the desire of young people to give birth to new sons and daughters as a sign of the fruitfulness of their love ensures a future for every society.” 

Pope Francis in fact mentions young people on several occasions throughout the text. “We must not disappoint them, for the future depends on their enthusiasm,” he emphasizes.

“It is sad to see young people who are without hope, who face an uncertain and unpromising future, who lack employment or job security, or realistic prospects after finishing school,” the Pope underlined, while denouncing the harm that “escaping into drugs” or the “pursuit of momentary pleasure” causes.

“With renewed passion, let us demonstrate care and concern for adolescents, students and young couples, the rising generation,” the Pope writes. 

A special year for Christian unity

Pope Francis also stresses that unity and dialogue between Christians will be a central theme of the coming Holy Year, which will also mark the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea of 325. He calls for a “concrete expression to this form of synodality,” lived by the early Christians, in order to respond “to the urgent need for evangelization.”

The Pope sees the anniversary of Nicaea as a “summons” to all the Churches to “persevere on the path to visible unity,” especially by agreeing on a common date for Easter, which Catholics and Orthodox will coincidentally celebrate on the same day, April 20, in 2025.

The Bishop of Rome also wishes to organize an ecumenical celebration in 2025 to evoke the “richness of the testimony” of the different Christian religions’ martyrs, whom he defines as “seeds of unity, expressions of the ecumenism of blood.” A similar event took place during the 2000 Jubilee with John Paul II, and a commission was set up in 2023 to study the subject.

Francis also encourages the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome, saying that they should feel “especially welcome” and that the Church “does not abandon them.”

He affirms that they are welcomed in Rome – along with their “Orthodox brothers and sisters” – even though “violence and instability” has often forced them “to leave their homelands, their holy lands, for safer places.”

Pilgrims: Set out in a “quest for meaning in life”

“A pilgrimage on foot is a great aid for rediscovering the value of silence, effort, and simplicity of life,” Pope Francis writes, highlighting how it represents “our human quest for meaning in life.”

He hopes that the itineraries and pilgrimages planned are “oases of spirituality and places of rest on the pilgrimage of faith” and that shrines may also be places “for the rebirth of hope.” 

In Rome, in addition to the traditional itineraries to the catacombs and the “Seven Churches,” the Jubilee organizers have also set up two other routes: One is dedicated to the Churches representing European countries and the other is centered around important female saints. 

Pope Francis also explains the meaning of the “indulgence.” According to tradition, during the Jubilee by passing through a “holy door” in St. Peter’s Basilica or in the other major basilicas (St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls), Catholics conditionally obtain a remission of the penalties for their sins, called an indulgence. This indulgence, explains the Pontiff, “is a way of discovering the unlimited nature of God’s mercy.” It underlines “the fullness of God’s forgiveness.” 

[See our primer on indulgences, part 1 and part 2.]

In dioceses all over the world, the Jubilee will begin on December 29, and all bishops are invited to propose a pilgrimage, Mass, and the reading of passages from the Bull of Indiction on that day.

Tags:
Jubilee 2025Pope FrancisVatican
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