The Jubilee in the Catholic Church
In the year 1300, Pope Boniface VIII instituted the first Christian Jubilee, it was a time of celebration and remission of sins, people were encouraged to confess their sins to a priest and to gain indulgences by the practice of good works.
Pope Clement VI, changed the time of the celebration to every twenty five years to allow people to enjoy it during their own generation. Pope Paul II decreed that the Jubilee should be celebrated every twenty-five years and his decree remains the same even now.
To start the celebration of the Jubilee year, the holy door in St. Peter's Basilica is open with the words of the Holy Father taken from [Psalm 118:20] "This is the gate of the Lord".
This gate is a symbol of Jesus who says "I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved, he will go in and out and find pasture" [John 10:9].
The holy door will be closed again at the end of the Jubilee year on 6 January 2001 on the Feast of the Epiphany.
The meaning of the opening of this door is the invitation to every heart to answer Christ who is standing at the door knocking [Revelation 3:20].
Praised be God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for having given us John Paul II, our Holy Father the Pope, at the threshold of this new millennium.
We happily start our Jubilee with the great triumph of the Church celebrating two thousand years of Christianity and having spread the gospel of Jesus to every nation on the earth.
The Catholic Church is proud to have the direction of such a dedicated Vicar of Christ who has produced very rich spiritual fruits during his pontificate.
We thank John Paul II for the New Catechism of the Catholic Church and for all his encyclicals.
His visits to Catholic countries throughout the world have brought hope in a world so thirsty of the Word of God.
Let us pray for all the faithful to support the teachings of the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church, and to continue being faithful to direction of the Holy Father.
This is how the Holy Father, John Paul II describes the Jubilee in his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente:
The term Jubilee speaks of joy, not just an inner joy, but a jubilation which is manifested outwardly, for the coming of God is also an outward, visible, audible and tangible event.... the year 2000 will be celebrated as the Great Jubilee).... a commitment to justice and peace in a world like ours, marked by so many conflicts and intolerable social and economic inequalities, is a necessary condition for the preparation and celebration of the jubilee. Thus, in the spirit of the book of Leviticus (25:8-12), Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not cancelling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations.