Pope Francis launched the Jubilee Year of Mercy today (December 8, 2015), with the opening of the Vatican Holy Door near the end of a Mass in St. Peter's Square where he was joined by his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and thousands of pilgrims, surrounded by heavy security, according to the Religion News website.
"This extraordinary year is itself a gift of grace," Francis told the faithful in his homily at Mass. "To pass through the holy door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them."
"How much wrong we do to God and His grace when we speak of sins being punished by His judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by His mercy," he said. "We have to put mercy before judgment."
After addressing the crowds, Francis embraced a frail-looking Benedict, who resigned from the papacy in 2013 and was invited by his successor to attend the jubilee ceremony.