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In a break with papal tradition, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and received the imposition of the ashes for Ash Wednesday in St Peter's Basilica in Rome today. Rather than going to Santa Sabina to celebrate Mass, Pope Francis commissioned hundreds of “Missionaries of Mercy” during Mass on Ash Wednesday at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In his Bull announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father said the Missionaries of Mercy “would be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.” Priests chosen to be Missionaries of Mercy have also been given the authority to pardon “even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Above all, the Pope said, they will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”
During Ash Wednesday Mass, the Pope focused on the theme of mercy as we begin the season of Lent.
Vatican Radio report of the Mass including the Pope's homily is available here
“If the Jubilee does not touch the pocket, it is not a true jubilee”. At the General Audience on Ash Wednesday morning, the Holy Father stated, without mincing words, that the Holy Year must serve “to combat poverty”. To the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on 10 February, Francis offered a historical reflection on the biblical roots of the Jubilee as an occasion for fostering justice and sharing. Vatican Radio has a translation of the Pope’s catechesis, which he delivered in Italian here.