Pope Francis Tells Rome Get Ready Before 2025 Holy Year

Vatican City — Pope Francis said Sunday the city of Rome has to improve its basic services for residents and visitors before the start of the 2025 Holy Year that is expected to draw tens of millions of pilgrims.

Francis made his comments at the Vatican’s traditional year-end vespers of thanksgiving, known as the Te Deum, about six hours before the start of the New Year.

“Are we working, each in his own way, to make this city a sign of hope for those who live here and those who visit?” he asked in his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Roberto Gualtieri, the mayor of the city that is plagued by inefficient public transport, overflowing garbage bins and traffic congestion, was sitting in the first row. The pope later shook his hand.

Francis, 87, said the city in particular needs to become more user friendly for the elderly and those with mobility problems.

In most neighborhoods, particularly outside the center, wheelchair users and the elderly must navigate their way around cars parked on sidewalks or blocking mobility ramps, usually with impunity for their owners.

Francis said the city needs “simple decorum and normal functionality” because a “more livable city for its residents is also more welcoming for everyone.”

Rome hosts a Holy Year, also known as a Jubilee Year, at least every 25 years. Pilgrims flock to the city to pray at its many holy sites and receive special blessings.

The city’s notorious traffic has been made even worse recently because of construction sites in preparation for the 2025 Holy Year, including road underpasses and overdue extensions to its small subway system. 

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