Pope Francis has granted a jubilee year with the built-in plenary indulgence, or remission of the entire temporal punishment for sin, for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country on March 16, 1521.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website reported Friday the 84-year-old pontiff, who made a pastoral and state visit to the Philippines in January 2015, issued a decree to the CBCP on February 25.
Earlier this week, the CBCP said the pontiff will lead the Filipino community in Italy in the quincentennial or 500th annual celebration of Christianity in the Philippines, where nearly 88 percent of its 110 million population are Christians.
Quoting Fr. Ricky Gente of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome, the CBCP said the celebration will be highlighted with a Mass to be officiated by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. (5 p.m. in Manila) on March 14, two days to the date Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed in Limasawa 500 years ago.
The website said the document was signed by the head of Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who said the celebration, which officially starts on April 4, would be an opportunity to increase the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
The Catholic faithful can receive plenary indulgence when they make a devotional pilgrimage to one of the designated “Jubilee Churches” until April 22, 2022.
The Catholic Church has listed some 537 pilgrimage churches in 85 dioceses for the quincentennial celebration.
It said when the faithful make the pilgrimage, they have to meet the usual conditions of going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, and praying for the intentions of the pope.
Pilgrims are also asked to pray “for the fidelity of the Filipino people to their Christian calling, for the increase of priestly and religious vocations and for the defense of the family, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the profession of faith, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins, which have already been forgiven.
Also joining the mass are Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope’s vicar for Rome.
Only a limited number of people will be allowed to attend the mass in person at the basilica due to COVID-19 restrictions, CBCP said.
After the mass, Pope Francis will also lead the traditional recitation of the Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square. In an interview on Teleradyo Wednesday, Fr. Greg Gaston, rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, said the mass will most likely be in Italian, but some Filipino songs may be used during the mass.
In the Philippines, most dioceses will launch the yearlong commemoration on April 4, Easter Sunday.