Pope opens 'Holy Door' in Bangui ahead of Catholic Jubilee year

| NOVEMBER 29, 2015, 12:00 AM IST

Bangui, Central African Republic

Pope Francis on Sunday made a highly symbolic gesture by opening a "Holy Door" at Bangui Cathedral in the Central African Republic ahead of the start of a Catholic Jubilee Year, marking forgiveness and reconciliation.

"Open for us the gate of your mercy," the 78-year-old pope prayed before opening the door. "We ask for peace for Central African Republic and for all people who suffer from war."

According to Catholic tradition, passing through such a "holy door" during a Jubilee Year allows worshippers to be forgiven their sins.

Although the Jubilee Year will formally be inaugurated on December 8, opening the door marks its symbolic start.

Until now, such a gesture has only ever taken place in the Church's headquarters in the Vatican or in Rome.

"If he opens the Holy Door in Bangui, a Jubilee Year will begin for the first time ever in the periphery" rather than the Vatican, Radio Vatican's Giulio Albanese told AFP ahead of the visit.

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