Pope shuts Holy Door, but urges: Stay open to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion

Malta Independent - - FEATURE -

Pope Fran­cis pulled shut the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basil­ica on Sun­day, for­mally end­ing the Holy Year of Mercy he de­clared to stress the need for greater rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for­give­ness in his church and in the world.

Af­ter clos­ing the or­nate door, Fran­cis urged some 70,000 peo­ple at­tend­ing Mass in St. Peter’s Square to stay open to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion prospects.

“Let us ask for the grace of never clos­ing the doors of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and par­don, but rather of know­ing how to go beyond evil and dif­fer­ences, open­ing ev­ery pos­si­ble path­way of hope,” the pope said dur­ing his homily.

A day ear­lier, at a cer­e­mony to give the church 17 new car­di­nals, the pope lamented a surge of hos­til­ity and po­lar­iza­tion in the world, es­pe­cially to­ward those many con­sider en­e­mies sim­ply be­cause they are from dif­fer­ent faiths, races or na­tion­al­i­ties.

“As God be­lieves in us, in­fin­itely beyond any mer­its we have, so, too, we are called to in­still hope and pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to oth­ers,” Fran­cis said Sun­day.

The Holy Year of Mercy, which started on Dec. 8, 2015, drew roughly 20 mil­lion pil­grims to Rome, where they passed through the open Holy Door at the Vat­i­can and at other Rome basil­i­cas.

A long line of faithful snaked through the square Satur­day evening for the last op­por­tu­nity to pass through St. Peter’s Basil­ica Holy Door, which is off to the side of the main en­trance.

Hours later, the pon­tiff slowly and firmly pulled close one side of the or­nately pan­eled door, then the other side. The door will be re-sealed un­til another Holy Year is de­clared, when­ever that might be.

Catholics world­wide also could pass through Holy Doors in des­ig­nated churches closer to home dur­ing the last year, as Fran­cis sought to put less at­ten­tion on the church head­quar­ters in Rome and more on ad­her­ents in the far­thest reaches of the globe.

Fran­cis opened one of those Holy Doors him­self, at the Cathe­dral of Ban­gui, dur­ing a pil­grim­age in late 2015 to the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, a coun­try blood­ied by sec­tar­ian fight­ing be­tween Mus­lims and Chris­tians.

A Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic prelate from that coun­try was one of 17 church­men of­fi­cially given the rank of car­di­nal by the pope on Satur­day. The new car­di­nals joined the rest of the car­di­nals dur­ing Sun­day’s Mass.

Fran­cis made clear that his pa­pacy, which be­gan in 2013, would con­tinue to press for di­a­logue and other peace­ful means to end con­flicts and bring peo­ple closer to­gether.

At the end of the Sun­day’s Mass in the square, Fran­cis signed a let­ter ad­dressed to all the church. The Vat­i­can said the let­ter ex­pressed the pope’s in­ten­tion that the church “can con­tinue to live out the mercy with the same in­ten­sity felt dur­ing the en­tire spe­cial Ju­bilee” Holy Year.

The pope handed out copies to var­i­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Catholic world. They in­cluded a fam­ily of par­ents; chil­dren and grand­par­ents from the United States; a nun from Mex­ico and a nun from South Korea; the arch­bishop of Manila; priests from the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo and from Brazil; and a woman in a wheel­chair, among oth­ers.

The Vat­i­can plans to re­lease the text of the let­ter to­day.

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