Barbie Latza Nadeau writes: Of all the things a sitting pope can do, calling for a Holy Jubilee Year is surely one of the more important. It is a joyous occasion that draws millions of Catholic pilgrims to Rome to take part in celebrations and get that ever-important indulgence, or forgiveness for sins, that some believers think will shorten their time in Purgatory.
With the announcement that Pope Francis has designated December 8 as the beginning of what the Vatican calls the Holy Jubilee of Mercy, this enormously popular pontiff is setting yet another record. No pope has ever declared a jubilee year so soon in his papacy. John Paul II held two holy years during his long sojourn, Benedict XVI retired before he had a chance to call such a celebration.
Once more the 78-year-old Francis seems to be racing against the clock, and many in Rome are speculating that his decision to declare such a momentous event so soon in his papacy, barely two years after his election, is to be sure he gets one in before time runs out, as if he is holding a sort of last hurrah or a farewell ceremony. And there are sad, almost sinister undertones.
“This pope seems to be in a hurry to get as much done as he can, as if he’s got a deadline,” Marco Politi, a Vatican expert, said at a small roundtable discussion on Francis and the length of his papacy last week. “He keeps talking about how his time is short, but it’s not because he’s sick. He has told his friends that he feels it will be an ‘event’ that wipes him out, not a natural end.” [Continue reading…]