A Jubilee Year, Papal Indulgences,
and Christian Unity?

An extraordinary event occurred on January 18th, 2000, that went largely unnoticed by the world's media. On that day Pope John Paul II opened the fourth and final holy door in Rome at St. Paul's outside the walls, a symbolic proclamation of the Jubilee year, along with its plenary papal indulgence.

What set this particular Catholic ceremony apart from previous Jubilees was that it also was designated as the event beginning a week of prayer for Christian Unity! The Reformation was sparked over the issue of indulgences, which were the subject of Martin Luther's 95 theses, yet this ceremonial opening of a holy door and attached papal indulgence was attended by the most significant ecumenical assembly of Catholics and non-Catholic Christians since Vatican II.
Dr George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the Anglican Church), Pope John Paul II, and Metropolitan Athanasios (representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians), kneeling before entering the Holy Door of St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

By attending this event in the name of unity, the participants were, in effect, acknowledging the primacy of the papacy and the authority of the pope to grant indulgences! Among the more prominent attendees were the Archbishop of Canterbury, representing the Anglican Church, and the president of the Lutheran World Federation, representing approximately 90% of the world's Lutherans. Below are links that detail this amazing event, which is truly a milestone marker on the road that is apparently leading some denominations to ultimate unity with the papacy and the Church of Rome, perhaps in the not too distant future.

The Future of Ecumenical Dialogue.

Dramatic Papal Plea for Christian Unity!

Pope Gathers Church Leaders.

The "ceremony is a new form of ecumenical exercise of the Pope's authority."

What is a Jubilee Year?

What is an Indulgence?

Pope John Paul II Declares A Plenary Jubilee Indulgence: Incarnationis Mysterium.

Martin Luther's 95 Theses on Indulgences.

The Bible does have something to say about the opening of holy doors:

Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:

In contrast to scripture, next year the holy doors of Rome will all be closed, and the special papal indulgence ended, until the next Catholic Jubilee year of 2025. But God has opened a door to forgiveness that no Pope can shut:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

The biblical way to forgiveness is to go to Jesus Christ directly, our advocate with the Father, but not by passing through cathedral doors in Rome or papal indulgences.