Last April, Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which would begin December 8, 2015, and run through November 20, 2016.
The year's purpose is to highlight the Catholic Church's "mission to be a witness of mercy," said the pope in announcing the special year during a Lenten prayer service.
Among the things planned is to send "missionaries of mercy" out into the world to teach about mercy, and to forgive even the most serious sins.
During the Year of Mercy, people would also be able to obtain indulgences by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the Vatican (or to a Holy Door designated in their local diocese) and by fulfilling the requirements for this kind of indulgence: Confessing their sins, receiving Communion, and praying for the pope's intentions.
No matter how people choose to observe the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis stressed that "it is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the celebration of the holy Eucharist with a reflection of mercy."
- Little White Book, Diocese of Saginaw