IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pilgrims must beware of people who
seek to use the Jubilee Year to profit off of them since salvation is a gift
that cannot be bought, Pope Francis said.
Beware of someone who is sly or sneaky who tells you that you need to pay.
Salvation cannot be paid for, salvation cannot be bought. Jesus is the door and
Jesus is free of charge,” the
pope said Dec. 16 during his weekly general audience.
The pope’s warning comes one day after Rome’s financial
police seized fake parchments — worth an estimated 70,000 euros — that were
sold at a souvenir shop near the Vatican, according to a report by The Associated
Press Dec. 14. AP said police seized 3,500 parchments being passed off as
apostolic blessings that commemorate marriages, baptisms and Holy Year
Prior to the start of the Jubilee Year, Archbishop Rino
Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New
Evangelization, said pilgrims must be vigilant not only of terrorist threats
but also of scam artists who see the Holy Year as “a source of
“It’s not just about
security for fear of ISIS. There has to be security to watch out for people’s
dignity,” he told journalists Dec. 4.
During his address,
Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Holy Year celebrations in dioceses across
the globe would serve as “a visible sign of universal communion” and
of God’s love and mercy to the world.
Noting that the
start of the Holy Year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of
the Second Vatican Council, the pope said that the council highlighted this
“mystery of communion” among the churches worldwide.
spread throughout the world and divided into many particular churches, it has
always been the one and only church that Jesus Christ wanted and for whom he
offered himself,” he said.
The Holy Door is a
symbol of Jesus Christ, he said, and pilgrims who pass through it in Rome and
in churches around the world make a visible sign of trust in him “who did
not come to judge but to save.”
“It is a sign
of a true conversion of the heart,” the pope said. “When we pass
through that door, it is good to remember that we should also open wide the
doors of our heart.”
continued, is another important aspect of the Holy Year that gives the faithful
the opportunity to have “a direct experience” of mercy. However, one
must first recognize their sins and also forgive others in order to fully
experience God’s love and forgiveness.
“When we recognize our sins and ask forgiveness, there
is a celebration in heaven; Jesus celebrates,” Pope Francis said.
“This is his mercy; do not be discouraged, go forward.”
Before the start of the audience, pilgrims sang “Happy
Birthday” to the pope who will celebrate his 79th birthday Dec. 17. As he
made his way to the stage, veteran Mexican journalist, Valentina Alazraki,
presented Pope Francis with a sombrero-shaped birthday cake on behalf of the
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