Two Popes join together in the Vatican

Tens of thousands of pilgrims watch the rare event

Newstalk, St Peters Basilica, Vatican, Rome, Italy, Pope Francis, Pope  Benedict, Holy year of mercy

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict have made a rare public appearance together to launch the Catholic Jubilee year.

The two popes embraced each other before opening a "Holy Door" in the walls of St Peter's basilica.

Pope Francis was launching his Holy Year of Mercy, declaring that mercy trumps moralising in his Catholic Church. 

Tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims assembled to watch the event.