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miserando atque eligendo •

The Pope, who celebrated two years in office on Friday, declared 2016 a Jubilee Year dedicated to mercy, to honor his most cherished Christian virtue. Francis has been preaching mercy ever since he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and even before: when he became a bishop, he chose the words “miserando atque eligendo” (Latin for “by having mercy and by choosing”, from venerable Bede’s Homily 21, where Jesus is said to see a tax collector, “and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing”, the Lord asked the man to follow him). These words have remained his motto as a Pope and are represented on his coat of arms.

The announcement of the Jubilee Year was made during a sermon within the penitential service performed for Lent. The audience at St. Peter’s Basilica burst into applause as they heard the unexpected news. In his sermon, Pope Francis said that “no one can be excluded from the mercy of God”.

The Jubilee Year is bound to start a little earlier than the beginning of the new year 2016, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015), and end on November 20, 2016, with the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Holding Jubilees is an old tradition within the Catholic Church, dating back to 1300, when Pope Boniface VIII proposed to celebrate one Jubilee every century. After 1475, ordinary Jubilees have been organized at 25 years intervals, to allow every generation to witness at least one. Extraordinary Jubilees are organized more rarely, usually on special occasions. The Holy Year of Mercy will be an Extraordinary Jubilee. It will also mark the anniversary of 50 years since the ending of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Although he is widely popular compared to former Pope Benedict, the current pontiff declared on Friday, just two years after being elected the head of the Catholic Church, that he does consider following Benedict’s example and retiring after a few more years. “I have a feeling my pontificate will be brief”, the Pope said, considering that Benedict’s decision to retire was not exception, but a way of instituting a tradition.

Francis, who is 78 now, confessed that he “doesn’t dislike” being the Pope, but sometimes feels worn out by travelling. Another thing he longs for is anonymity – he half-joked about being able to go out and have a pizza without being recognized. He recounted a recent phone conversation with the ex-Pope, who started living a monastic life after resigning, and said that Benedict felt content and respected.

image source: The Telegraph

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