Pope Francis proclaims 2025 Jubilee papal bull: ‘Hope does not disappoint’

Pope Francis presides over the Vespers prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, May 9, 2024. (Reuters/Remo Casilli)

VATICAN— The Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee was officially proclaimed on Thursday by Pope Francis, who presided over a formal reading of the Jubilee’s papal bull of indiction.

The papal bull, titled “Spes Non Confudit,” meaning “Hope Does Not Disappoint,” declares that the Jubilee Year will officially begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve 2024.

The pope further decreed that every Catholic cathedral around the world should offer Mass on Dec. 29, 2024, as the solemn opening of the Jubilee Year for their local communities. Pope Francis encouraged dioceses to organize pilgrimages to the cathedrals for the occasion.

The 2025 Jubilee will officially conclude with the closing of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica on Jan. 6, 2026, on the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

“May the Jubilee be a moment of genuine, personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, the ‘door’ (cf. Jn 10:7,9) of our salvation, whom the Church is charged to proclaim always, everywhere, and to all as ‘our hope’ (1 Tim 1:1),” Pope Francis wrote in the papal bull.

A jubilee is a special holy year of grace and pilgrimage in the Catholic Church. It typically takes place once every 25 years, though the pope can call for extraordinary jubilee years more often, such as in the case of the 2016 Year of Mercy or the 2013 Year of Faith.

Tradition dictates that each jubilee is proclaimed through a papal bull of indiction, a document written in Latin that bears the seal of the pope. Pope John Paul II proclaimed the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with the bull Incarnationis Mysterium, meaning “The Mystery of the Incarnation.”

At the beginning of the ceremony, Pope Francis formally delivered copies of the papal bull to cardinals and bishops from different parts of the world, including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle representing all of the bishops of Asia and Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu representing all of the bishops of Africa.

Excerpts of the papal bull were then read aloud by a prelate in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“During the Holy Year, we are called to be tangible signs of hope for those of our brothers and sisters who experience hardships of any kind,” Pope Francis wrote.

Pope Francis revealed that he would like to open a Holy Door within a prison during the 2025 Jubilee “as a sign inviting prisoners to look to the future with hope and a renewed sense of confidence.”

The pope also encouraged governments around the world to bring hope to prisoners through forms of amnesty or pardon, as well as reintegration programs to help prisoners return to the community with a greater respect for the law.

Historically, jubilee years included the freeing of slaves and prisoners, as well as the forgiveness of debts as manifestations of God’s mercy, as called for in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. Pope Boniface VIII reestablished the jubilee tradition in 1300 with a Christian focus on the forgiveness of sins.

Holy Doors are a central part of any jubilee. These doors, found at St. Peter’s Basilica and Rome’s other major basilicas, are sealed from the inside and opened during a jubilee year.

The opening of the Holy Door symbolizes the offering of an “extraordinary path” toward salvation for Catholics during a jubilee. Pilgrims who walk through a Holy Door can receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.

During the 2025 Jubilee Year, pilgrims who visit Rome will also be able to walk through Holy Doors at the other papal basilicas in the Eternal City. Pope Francis will open the Holy Door of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on Dec. 29, 2024, the Holy Door in the St. Mary Major Basilica on the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Jan. 1, 2025, and the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Jan. 5, 2025. These three Holy Doors will be closed on Dec. 28, 2025.

In the papal bull, Pope Francis urged the need for peace in the world, which he said is “immersed in the tragedy of war.”

“May the Jubilee remind us that those who are peacemakers will be called ‘children of God’ (Mt 5:9),” the pope said. “The need for peace challenges us all and demands that concrete steps be taken. May diplomacy be tireless in its commitment to seek, with courage and creativity, every opportunity to undertake negotiations aimed at a lasting peace.”

The pope has called for 2024 to be a Year of Prayer leading up to the 2025 Jubilee.

Following the proclamation of the papal bull, Pope Francis presided over vespers inside the basilica for the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord in the presence of 48 cardinals, 40 bishops, and members of the public.

“Dear brothers and sisters, in this Year of Prayer, as we prepare for the celebration of the Jubilee, let us lift up our hearts to Christ and become singers of hope in a world marked by too much despair,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

“By our actions, our words, the decisions we make each day, our patient efforts to sow seeds of beauty and kindness wherever we find ourselves, we want to sing of hope, so that its melody can touch the heartstrings of humanity and reawaken in every heart the joy and the courage to embrace life to the full.”