The Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis will end in a Mass on 20 NOV 2016 when Francis will elevate a number of men who he has approved to become cardinals. Some of the men are young enough that they may be in the conclave to elect Francis’ successor. During this past year, Francis has taken one Friday each month to meet with a specific group of people in a jubilee celebration. He has met with refugees, the elderly, new borns in a hospital and now the homeless.
On 11 NOV Francis made his last extraordinary visits, meeting with two vastly different groups. In the morning of that Friday he met with over 6 thousand homeless folks at the Vatican in Paul VI Hall and asked them to forgive him. The poor and socially excluded came from 22 European nations for the audience. Francis stood vicariously for all Christians.
I ask your forgiveness for all the times that we Christians stand before a poor person or a situation of poverty and look the other way…the heart of the Gospel is the great message of poverty and that we — Catholics, Christians, all of us — must form a church that is poor for the poor. All men and women from any religion must see in the poor the message of God who comes close to us and made himself poor to accompany us in life.
+Francis, Bishop of Rome
Donations were used to pay the transportation, food and lodging for the poor & homeless. However, each of them was also asked to pay something for expenses so that they were both participating and responsible for their own decision to attend the jubilee celebration. The journey was limited to European nations participating because of the extreme logistics involved in organizing the event. However, the organizers are hoping that this may lead to an annual pilgrimage of the poor, homeless and ostracized to the Vatican.
Later yesterday, the Pope held a more intimate jubilee celebration as he met with 7 men who had chosen to leave their priestly vocation, marry and raise families. In a small apartment in Rome, Francis met with the men and their families. Five were from Italy, one from Spain and one from a Latin American country. He was warmly received by the men and their families. Francis sat with them and listened to their individual stories.
The Vatican released a statement about the visit. “They spent months and years wrestling with uncertainty and doubts before coming to the decision they had made a mistake by becoming priests, then decided to leave the priesthood and create a family.” The statement emphasized that “loneliness, misunderstanding, (and) fatigue” was behind their decisions to leave their vocations. The meeting has raised some hope that Francis will be more compassionate when considering the Roman church’s requirement of Latin Rite priestly celibacy.