Spes non confundit: the Jubilee bull of indiction exhorts to hope

In the bull of indiction for the Holy Year 2025, the Pope launches an appeal on behalf of prisoners, migrants, the sick, the elderly and young people under the influence of drugs and transgression. The Sovereign Pontiff announces that he will open a Holy Door in prisons, asks for the forgiveness of the debt of poor countries, a revival of the birth rate, the reception of migrants and respect for Creation. He hopes for the creation of a fund for the abolition of hunger in the world.

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City

The Pope invokes hope as a gift for the Jubilee 2025 in a world marked by the clash of arms, death, destruction, hatred of one’s neighbor, hunger, “ecological debt” and the birth rate. Hope is the balm that Francis wants to spread on the wounds of a humanity oppressed by “brutality of violence” or experiencing exponential growth in poverty.

Spes not confused, hope does not disappoint, is the title of the Bull of Indiction of the Ordinary Jubilee delivered this Thursday, May 9, by the Pope to the Churches of the five continents during the second vespers of the solemnity of the Ascension. The bull, divided into 25 points, contains supplications, proposals, appeals for prisoners, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the young, and announces the novelties of a Holy Year which will have as its theme “Pilgrims of Hope”.

A common date for Easter

In his bull, the Pope recalls two important anniversaries: the celebration in 2033 of the two thousandth anniversary of the Redemption and the 1700th anniversary of the first great ecumenical council of Nicaea, which, among other themes on its agenda, also dealt with the date of Easter. Even today, “diverging positions” prevent celebrating the same day “the founding event of the faith”, he emphasizes, recalling that, however, “by a providential combination of circumstances, this will take place precisely in 2025” (17).

“This must be a call to all Christians in the East and West to take a decisive step towards unity around a common Easter date”

The opening of the Holy Door

In the middle of these “big steps”, the Pope decrees that the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica will be opened on December 24, 2024. The following Sunday, December 29, the Supreme Pontiff will open the Holy Door of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Cathedral of Rome, before, on January 1, 2025, the solemnity of Mary Mother of God, to open that of Sainte-Marie-Majeure and on January 5 the Holy Door of Saint-Paul-outside-the-Walls. The three doors will be closed on Sunday, December 28, 2025 and the Jubilee will end with the closing of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on January 6, 2026 (6).

Signs of the times

Francis’ wish is that “the first sign of hope” of the Jubilee may “translate into peace for the world plunged, once again, into the tragedy of war”.

“Forgetful of the tragedies of the past, humanity is subjected to a new and difficult test which sees many populations oppressed by the brutality of violence. What have these people not endured? How is it possible that their desperate call for help does not push the leaders of nations to want to put an end to the too many regional conflicts, aware of the consequences that can result from them at the global level? Is it too much to dream that the weapons will fall silent and stop bringing death and destruction? (8).

Vespers and the Jubilee Bull of Indiction – highlights

Recovery of the birth rate

The Pope observes with concern the “worrying decline in birth rate” in different countries and for various reasons: “frantic rhythms of life”, “fears about the future”, “lack of professional guarantees and adequate social protections”, “social models” in which the pursuit of profit and not relationships prevails. For the Pope, it is “urgent” that believers and civil society provide a “convinced support”, THE “desire of young people to beget new children” so that the future is “marked by the smiles of many children who will come to fill too many empty cribs” (9).

For prisoners: respect, dignity, abolition of capital punishment

François then asks for “tangible signs of hope” for the prisoners. It offers governments “forms of amnesty or remission of sentence”as well as “pathway of reintegration into the community”. Above all, the Pope calls for “dignified conditions for those who are imprisoned”At “respect for human rights” and to “abolition of the death sentence” (10). To offer prisoners a concrete sign of closeness, the Sovereign Pontiff will himself open a Holy Door in a prison.

Do not disappoint the sick or the young

Signs of hope will also be offered to the sick, at home or in hospital: “Care for them is a hymn to human dignity” (11). Hope is also necessary for young people who so often see “their dreams crumble”.

“The illusion of drugs, the risk of transgression and the search for the ephemeral create, more in them than in others, confusion and hide the beauty and meaning of life, making them slide into dark abysses and push them to perform self-destructive actions” (12). “We cannot disappoint,” declares François.

No to prejudices and closures towards migrants

The Pope once again asks that the expectations of migrants “do not be upset by prejudices and closures”. “Many exiled, displaced and refugee people are forced to flee due to controversial international events to avoid wars, violence and discrimination. Security as well as access to work and education must be guaranteed to them, elements necessary for their integration into their new social context” (13).

The poverty scandal

The Pope does not forget, in the Bull, the many elderly people who experience solitude and abandonment. He also does not forget the “billions” poor people who “often lack the necessities of life”. They “suffer from the exclusion and indifference of many”. “It’s scandalous,” according to Francis, that the poor constitute the majority of the population of a world “endowed with enormous resources largely devoted to armaments” (15). He then calls for an outpouring of generosity from the rich and renews his call for the creation of a “Global Fund […] with a view to eradicating hunger once and for all” with money from military spending (16).

Debt forgiveness for poor countries

Another sincere invitation is extended to the richest nations to “decide to forgive the debts of countries that will never be able to repay them.” “It’s more a question of justice,” writes Pope Francis, “aggravated today by a new form of inequity”, as the “ecological debt”, particularly between the North and the South (16).

The testimony of the martyrs

In the Jubilee Bull, the Pope invites us to look at the testimony of the martyrs, belonging to different Christian traditions, and expresses the desire that during the Holy Year “an ecumenical celebration […] be highlighted” (20).

The importance of confession and the Missionaries of Mercy

Francis then speaks of the sacrament of penance and announces the continuation of the service of the Missionaries of Mercy, established during the Extraordinary Jubilee. He asks the bishops to send them where “hope is put to the test” or where “the dignity of the person is violated” (23).

The invitation to the Eastern and Orthodox Churches

The Bishop of Rome addresses “a special invitation” to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who “have suffered so much – often to the point of death – because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church”. These brothers “must feel particularly welcome in this Rome which is also their Mother”. A thought also goes to the Orthodox brothers and sisters who are already living “the pilgrimage of the Via Crucis”, forced to leave their country because of violence and instability.

Prayer stop at Marian shrines

Francis also invites pilgrims who come to Rome to pray in Marian shrines to invoke the protection of Mary, in order to “experience the closeness of the most affectionate mother who never abandons her children” (24).

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