On March 13, 2015, Pope Francis called for an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. In his official proclamation, called a Bull of Indiction, the pope said one aspect of the Jubilee involves the granting of plenary indulgences. For centuries the Catholic Church has taught that in purgatory one is purified of the guilt that may remain from sins which already have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A plenary indulgence removes all of the guilt from all of the sins that have been confessed.
In the Bull of Indiction, Pope Francis said: "Despite being forgiven, the conflicting consequences of our sins remain. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgives our sins, which he truly blots out; and yet sin leaves a negative effect on the way we think and act. But the mercy of God is stronger even than this. It becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who, through the Bride of Christ, his Church, reaches the pardoned sinner and frees him from every residue left by the consequences of sin, enabling him to act with charity, to grow in love rather than to fall back into sin." (#22)
The Holy Year began with the opening of Holy Doors of Mercy at cathedrals and churches throughout the world. These doors, which symbolize one's desire for reconciliation with God, are dedicated entrances for pilgrims.
Bishop Malesic designated five Holy Doors in churches throughout the four counties of the Diocese of Greensburg, and these doors are located in each of the five churches that have been designated as "Pilgrimage Churches."
A pilgrimage is a journey to a place of prayer where one seeks to reconnect with the faith and gain spiritual insights.
If one chooses to gain the plenary indulgence during the Holy Year, you are called to:
- Make a pilgrimage to one of the designated Churches of Pilgrimage during the Holy Year and pass through the Holy Door of Mercy.
- Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (penance) in any church at any time during the Holy Year.
- Attend a Mass in any church at any time during the Holy Year that includes a reflection on mercy. For example, Penitential Rite - prayer including Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy).
- Make a profession of faith, such as the Nicene or Apostles Creed, at any time during the Holy Year.
- Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father at least once during the Holy Year. These intentions are printed in the second issue of every month in The Catholic Accent and are titled "Apostleship of Prayer." They also can be found at www.apostleshipofprayer.org.
People can make an individual pilgrimage or as part of a parish group. Check with local parish offices for information about group pilgrimages that may be planned.
Before planning the day and time of your pilgrimage, both individual pilgrims and groups should contact the Church of Pilgrimage at least one month in advance to schedule a time for the pilgrimage.
The Doors of Mercy will be open for pilgrims during the normal operational hours of the Church of Pilgrimage. Pilgrimages cannot be scheduled during liturgies, sacramental celebrations or funerals.
Over the coming months, dates for Day of Mercy Masses at the Churches of Pilgrimage will be announced. All pilgrims will have the opportunity to attend these Masses.
The diocesan Office for Pilgrimages also is planning a number of pilgrimages to the Churches of Pilgrimage. This information will be announced in the coming weeks.
Churches of Pilgrimage