Jubilee: successful decentralization. For Francis numbers don’t count

The Holy Year called by the Pope follows the direction of personal conversion and commitment for those in need, in those existential peripheries where the message of love and hope, part and parcel of all Jubilees, should always be present

Mons. Giovanni Ricchiuti apre la Porta santa della cattedrale - Altamura

It’s one of those news items we seldom read in the papers: ten thousand Holy Doors have been opened in this Year of Mercy. Over two million eight hundred thousand people have passed through the Doors in the first 100 days of the Jubilee. It should be said that it would be impossible to make a comparison with the Jubilee of the year 2000, or with previous Holy Years: Pope Francis wished that that the privilege of welcoming the faithful would be only that of St.Peter’s Basilica.

 “Decentralization” is the keyword:

Rome and the Vatican basilica are unquestionably the focal points of this path of conversion. However, in world dioceses, at the request of the Bishop of Rome, it’s possible to undertake the same penitential pilgrimage. Some may turn up their noses 
before that decision, which does not exclude St. Peter’s yet it does not make it the sole point of reference. It reflects the style of Francis, one may say, to offer new paths, and innovative perspectives. Indeed, how could we fail to remember that Saint John Paul II, in one of his first international visitations, speaking to journalists, highlighted the innovation of the time: “I am the parish priest of the world, and it’s unthinkable that even the most distant parish would not see its parish priest at least once.” Thus apostolic visitations became a key element of the magisterium of the Pope “from a distant country.”

To a certain extent one may identify its genesis in the peregrination of Pope Wojtyla; however

For Francis, the decentralization of the journey of mercy means having transmitted the invitation not to remain indifferent to wounds, to the suffering of women, men and children, worldwide.

It is no coincidence that, having scheduled the opening of the Jubilee to an earlier date, Pope Francis was in Bangui, the capital of the Central Africa Republic, to celebrate the first moments of the Holy Year with the opening of the door of the cathedral of a nation that is yet to experience a truce that would enable its people to live in peace. “A land that has suffered for many years as a result of war, hatred, misunderstanding, and the lack of peace. But in this suffering land there are also all the countries that are experiencing the Cross of war”, the Pope said. “Bangui thus becomes, he continued, the spiritual capital of prayer for the Father’s mercy. We all ask for peace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness, and love.”
 There is also a second Holy door which I believe is especially dear to the Pope: it’s the door of the Caritas centre at Rome’s Termini train station. That door leads into a world of suffering and marginalization; human lives wounded by misunderstanding and indifference. Francis brings his embrace and his solidarity to the last in the Gospel. The final theme that deserves to be mentioned is the question of numbers.

I believe that for Francis numbers don’t count

In fact the days devoted to St. Pius of Petralcina and St. Leopold Mandic, two pillars of mercy, have been marked by the highest numbers of faithful present to pay homage to the two Saints in St. Peter’s. It would be right to assume that similar crowds will be present next September 4, on the occasion of the canonization of “the little pencil in God’s hands” Mother Theresa of Calcutta, to be proclaimed Saint by Pope Francis. The religious, famous worldwide, founder of numerous charity centres, devoted her entire life to helping other people, starting with the poor, the sick and the outcast on the streets of Calcutta. Pope Montini was the first to meet her during his journey to India, when he asked to visit the home of the terminally ill. Paul VI gifted Mother Theresa with the car he used on his visit. A few months later, in the Vatican, he received a letter in which she thanked him, adding that “I have sold the vehicle you gave me and purchased milk and rice for my children.” The Holy Year called by Pope Francis follows the same direction of personal conversion and commitment for those in need, in those existential peripheries where should always be present the message of love and hope that is part and parcel of every Jubilee.

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