POPE Francis has opened the possibility of a short pontificate, two years after his election to the papacy.

In an interview last March 13 with Mexico’s Televisa, Pope Francis hinted that his term as pope would be brief. "I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief: four or five years. It is a vague feeling I have that the Lord chose me for a short mission. I am always open to that possibility,” the Pope said.

Citing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was the first pope to resign in seven centuries in February 2013, Pope Francis said stepping down from papacy was also possible for him. “In general, I think what [Pope Emeritus] Benedict XVI courageously did was to open the door to other bishops. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution,” he said.

Recalling the days prior to his election, Pope Francis said he missed the times when he was cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Francis said that since he was elected pope, he had grown unaccustomed to the thought of traveling, and would prefer the comforts of home.

“The only thing I would like is to go out one day, without being recognized, and go to a pizzeria for a pizza. In Buenos Aires, I was a rover,” the Pope said.

The Holy Father also revealed how unexpected his election to the papacy was. The Pope said he expected the conclave to be short as he had already prepared a homily for his return to Buenos Aires. It was only in the afternoon of the day of his election that he realized that he wouldn’t be going back home.

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“Something happened, I do not know what. In the room, I saw some strange signs. They asked me about my health. And when we came back in the afternoon, the cake was already in the oven. In two votes, it was all over,” the Pope said.

Holy Year of Mercy

Last March 13, the Pope announced the start of an “extraordinary jubilee” at the end of this year, to be dedicated to the theme of “mercy.”

Pope Francis urged the faithful to start a journey inspired with spiritual conversion, to understand the Christian mission of being bearers of mercy.

"We are united with so many Christians, who, in every part of the world, have accepted the invitation to live this moment as a sign of the goodness of the Lord. For this reason, I have decided to declare an extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center," Pope Francis said during rites at St. Peter’s Basilica marking the second anniversary of his election to the papacy.

Fr. Luke Moortgat, who heads the observance of the Year of the Poor in the Philippines, said the Holy Year of Mercy would highlight the utmost value that Pope Francis places on people in need of God’s consolation. "You could see that he wanted the people to embrace a life filled with mercy. He wants mercy in our world," Moortgat said.

Pope Francis officially presented the Bull of Indiction or the fundamental document that outlines the overall intentions for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy last April 11.

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In the document titled Misericordiae Vultus or the “The Face of Mercy,” Pope Francis said the Holy Year would be about living the mercy that God extends to all.

“The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality through which he reveals his love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child,” the document states.

The Holy Year of Mercy will start on Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will end on Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. The Pope wants all parishes to be part of the worldwide celebration of the “24 Hours of the Lord” in which Catholic churches would be open for prayer, Eucharistic adoration, and confession.

Francis also plans to send “Missionaries of Mercy”, priests to whom he would grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, during Lent of the Holy Year.

“They will be living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon,” Pope Francis wrote in Misericordiae Vultus.

The proclamation of an extraordinary jubilee or holy year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Jubilees aim to encourage holiness of life, stronger faith, and works of charity. There have been only 26 ordinary jubilee celebrations, the last of which was the Jubilee of 2000. Marie Danielle L. Macalino

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