VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Friday opened a symbolic “Holy Door” for those excluded from society, at the start of a special Jubilee year for the Roman Catholic church.
“The roads of vanity, of conceit and pride are not those of salvation,” the pontiff told thousands of worshippers, including some on the fringes of society at a center of the Christian charity Caritas.
“Where there are those excluded from society, there is Jesus,” he said at the centrr, near Rome’s busy Termini train station.
The Argentinian pope made the symbolic gesture of opening the glazed glass double doors of the facility while pronouncing the centuries-old command: “This is the door of the Lord. Open to me the gates of justice”.
It was the same message he intoned last week when he opened the “Holy Door” of St Peter’s basilica to kick off an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Francis called the Jubilee, which runs until November 20, 2016, with the express goal of changing the way the Church is perceived by the faithful, lapsed Catholics and the rest of the world.
In a move reflecting that aim, Francis announced in September that for the duration of the Jubilee, priests would be given special dispensation to absolve women who have had abortions.
In addition, some 800 priests around the world are to be designated “missionaries of mercy” tasked with encouraging higher levels of confession among believers.
Francis’s push for a less judgmental, more understanding Church has encountered fierce resistance from traditionalists opposed to any relaxation of teaching on hot-button subjects such as homosexuality, divorce and unmarried cohabitation.
Since December 8, when he opened those basilica doors, more than 2,000 other doors have been ceremoniously opened around the world.