On April 11, 2015 Pope Francis made the proclamation of the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.
The Holy Year of Mercy is scheduled for December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016.
Holy Years usually are held every 25 years; the last was the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The year about to begin is an extraordinary jubilee year, called in order to foster conversion and spiritual renewal in all the members of the Church around the world. In a jubilee year every Catholic is called on to seek reconciliation with God, with the Church, and with one another.
Pope Francis read portions of the proclamation in front of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Door, usually bricked up, is opened at the beginning of a jubilee year.
On April 11, during Vespers in the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke about the meaning of the Holy Year of Mercy which will open on December 8. Here are some excerpts from his homily. The entire text is found in Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
"Why have a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness. . .
“This is a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy.
"The Holy Year must keep alive the desire to know how to welcome the numerous signs of the tenderness which God offers to the whole world and, above all, to those who suffer, who are alone and abandoned, without hope of being pardoned or feeling the Father’s love.
“A Holy Year to experience strongly within ourselves the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd who has come in search of us because we were lost...
“A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by his mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy. Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy.”