Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which began on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. On that day, the Holy Father symbolically opened the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica as a "sign of communion of the whole Church."
Anyone who walked through these Doors of Mercy, said Pope Francis, would "experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."
On the following Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent) Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome. On subsequent Sundays, other doors to papal basilicas were opened. The Pope requested that each diocese across the globe also open a "Door of Mercy" to recognize the Jubilee locally.
Here in the Diocese of Syracuse, the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Church in Syracuse was sealed at 9:45 am on Sunday, November 22. The door was opened by Bishop Cunningham on December 13. All who walked through the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will be blessed with God's loving mercy! The Holy Door was closed by Bishop Cunningham on the Solemnity of Christ the King and close of the Year of Mercy at 9:45 am at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse.
Motto: the Holy Year's motto was "Merciful like the Father" ["Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy" - Pope Francis]
- Understanding God's mercy: "The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother," said Pope Francis.
- Practical ways to live the Holy Year: go on pilgrimage, do not judge or condem, forgive and give, avoid gossip, envy and jealousy, open your heart to "the fringes of society," bring consolation, mercy and solidarity to the oppressed, take up corporal and spiritual acts of mercy with a joyful heart, observe the "24 Hours for the Lord" initiative during Lent.
- Call for justice and conversion: Pope Francis asks members of criminal organizations and other corrupt groups to "change their lives and embrace God's mercy."