Vatican Round-up

Pope Announces Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has announced the celebration of an extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to Mercy.

The Holy Year of Mercy will begin on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, and will end on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Pontiff’s unexpected announcement during a penitential ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica was greeted with applause by those present.

Entrusting the Jubilee’s organisation to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, in order to help the Church spread the Gospel of mercy, the Holy Father said, “I am convinced that the whole Church can find in this Jubilee the joy to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to each man and each woman of our time.” 

Ordinary Jubilee years are celebrated every 25 years, with the most recent having been in 2000, an extraordinary Jubilee is much rarer; the only ones in the last century being in 1933 and 1983, called by Pope Pius XI and Pope St John Paul II respectively to celebrate the 1900th and 1950th anniversaries of the Resurrection.


Controversial Illustration Removed From Vatican Website

The Pontifical Council for Culture has replaced a controversial illustration from its website.

Man Ray’s ‘Venus Restored’, depicting a bound torso of a woman, has been replaced with late medieval Flemish artist Petrus Christus’s ‘Madonna of the Dry Tree’ on the council’s working document from its February event ‘Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference’. 

In response to earlier criticism of the 1936 sculpture, including from ‘We Are Church Ireland’, the council’s president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi posted as an explanation. “Some complaints have reached the dicastery concerning the image above,” it said, continuing, “While acknowledging the anger, Cardinal Ravasi has chosen not to remove the image as it speaks clearly for one of the central points of the document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless).”

Following continued criticism, however, the council opted instead to use as a cover illustration a 15th-century painting painting of Mary holding the infant Christ and standing, encircled by branches resembling a crown of thorns, on the trunk of a dead tree.