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People need truth, goodness, hope, pope says after proclaiming 2025 Holy Year

Pope Francis closes his eyes during a moment of reflection at a ceremony in front of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 9, 2024, where he formally delivered “Spes Non Confundit,” (“Hope Does Not Disappoint”), his document proclaiming the Holy Year 2025. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In the run-up to the Holy Year 2025, Pope Francis appealed to the world’s Christians to become joyful heralds of hope in a world marked by fear and despair.

“Each of us needs hope in our lives, at times so weary and wounded, our hearts that thirst for truth, goodness and beauty, and our dreams that no darkness can dispel,” the pope said.

“Everything, within and outside of us, cries out for hope and continues to seek the closeness of God, even without knowing it,” he said in his homily during an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica May 9, the feast of the Ascension.

The service was preceded by a formal ceremony in the marble atrium in front of the basilica’s Holy Door during which the pope released the “bull of indiction” proclaiming the Holy Year 2025.

The door, which is made up of 16 bronze panels depicting episodes from both the Old and New Testament, was surrounded by a long garland of yellow and white flowers. About 200 dignitaries – cardinals, bishops, religious, diplomats and others – were seated in the atrium on either side of the pope.

The document titled, “Spes Non Confundit,” (“Hope Does Not Disappoint”), formally announced the jubilee celebration would begin with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 24 this year and close Jan. 6, 2026, the feast of Epiphany.

Pope Francis handed special copies of the document, which were adorned with a braided yellow cord affixed with a round metal seal – a “bulla” in Latin – to the archpriests of the papal basilicas of St. Peter and St. Mary Major, to U.S. Cardinal James M. Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and to the vicar of the archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

He also handed the special copies to top officials of the dicasteries for Evangelization and the Eastern Churches as well as to U.S. Cardinal Robert F. Prevost, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops.

He then handed a copy to Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, an apostolic protonotary and official of the papal household, who read key excerpts from the document.

The Holy Year is meant to help the faithful deepen their relationship with Jesus, “the ‘door’ of salvation, whom the Church is charged to proclaim always, everywhere and to all as ‘our hope,’” the document said.

Those in the atrium then processed into the basilica where several hundred others were in attendance for the celebration of the evening prayer presided over by Pope Francis.

In his homily, the pope emphasized the unique nature of Christian hope, which is “based on Christ who died and rose again,” and which “we wish to celebrate, ponder and proclaim to the whole world in the coming jubilee.”

Christian hope is a gift “that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading,” he said, and “it sustains the journey of our lives, even when the road ahead seems winding and wearying.”

“It opens our eyes to future possibilities whenever resignation or pessimism attempts to imprison us. It makes us see the promise of good at times when evil seems to prevail,” he said. “It fills us with serenity when our hearts are burdened by sin and failure. It makes us dream of a new humanity and gives us courage in our efforts to build a fraternal and peaceful world, even when it seems barely worth the effort.”

During this Year of Prayer in preparation for the celebration of the jubilee, he said, “let us lift up our hearts to Christ and become singers of hope in a civilization marked by too much despair.”

“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 reawaken the courage to embrace life to the full,” he said.

Everyone needs hope, he said. Hope is needed where people only care about the here and now, by those who are caught up in individualism or “who look to the future with anxiety and fear.”

“Hope is needed by God’s creation, gravely damaged and disfigured by human selfishness,” he said.

“Hope is needed by the Church, so that when she feels wearied by her exertions and burdened by her frailty, she will always remember that, as the bride of Christ, she is loved with an eternal and faithful love, called to hold high the light of the Gospel, and sent forth to bring to all the fire that Jesus definitively brought to the world,” he said.

“May the Lord, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, grant us the grace to rediscover hope,” Pope Francis prayed, and “to proclaim hope and to build hope.”