With thousands of clergy and pilgrims from around the world gathered for his Wednesday General Weekly Audience, Pope Francis warned the Faithful against fraudsters who would have them pay to pass through “Holy Doors” at cathedrals around the world, a ritual in the Church’s current Jubilee year.
“Be careful! Beware of someone who is sly or sneaky who tells you that you have to pay. Salvation cannot be paid for, it is free. Jesus is the door and Jesus is free of charge,Pilgrims must beware of people who seek to use the Jubilee Year to profit off of them since salvation is a gift that cannot be bought”.
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Holy Year celebrations in dioceses across the globe would serve as “a visible sign of universal communion" and of God’s love and mercy to the world.
The Holy Door is a symbol of Jesus Christ, he said, and pilgrims who pass through it in Rome and in churches around the world make a visible sign of trust in him “who did not come to judge but to save."
“It is a sign of a true conversion of the heart," the Pope said. “When we pass through that door, it is good to remember that we should also open wide the doors of our heart."
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is a year-long celebration that began on Dec 8 and during this time; the church’s 1.2 billion believers can enter a renewed relation with God and be pardoned for their sins.
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,” the pope had said during the mass. According to the Catholic teaching, walking through the Holy Doors results in a remission from sin when accompanied by prayer and repentance. It actually means Catholics symbolically pass from Sin to Grace.
Earlier this week,the Italian police impounded 3,500 fake parchments bearing purported blessings by the pope and were being sold to pilgrims coming to Rome for the Holy Year.
The Holy Father’s warning came as a result of the fake parchments seized by the Rome’s financial Police worth an estimated 70, 000 euros, sold at a souvenir shop near the Vatican.
3,500 fake parchments were seized, parchments were sold to pilgrims at the Vatican in the name of apostolic blessings commemorating marriages, baptisms and Holy pilgrimages, according to a report by The Associated Press
Before the start of the Jubilee Year, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, said pilgrims must be vigilant not only of terrorist threats but also of scam artists who see the Holy Year as “a source of income."
“It’s not just about security for fear of ISIS. There has to be security to watch out for people’s dignity," he told journalists earlier this month.
He emphasized on Confessions as another important aspect of the Holy Year that gives the faithful the opportunity to have “a direct experience" of mercy.” However, one must first recognize their sins and also forgive others in order to fully experience God’s love and forgiveness. when we recognize our sins and ask forgiveness, there is a celebration in heaven; Jesus celebrates," Pope Francis said. “This is his mercy; do not be discouraged, go forward."