February 3, 2000
volume 11, no. 24
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


    VATICAN ( -- More than 35,000 religious men and women participated in the Jubilee for Consecrated Life at the Vatican, which concluded on February 2, the feast of the Presentation.

    Original plans had called for the three-day celebrate to end with a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. But since the number of participants nearly doubled the anticipated figure of 18,000, the Mass was moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square. The ceremony began with a candlelight procession, with each member of the congregation carrying a lighted candle into the square, in the traditional observance of the feast once popularly known as Candlemas.

    "I greet you with the kiss of evangelical peace," the Holy Father told the consecrated religious in his homily. He observed that the Jubilee offered an opportunity for the participants to pray for "the hopes and problems of your respective institutions," and to "ask pardon for the eventual breaks which have marked the lives of different religious families."

    The Pontiff emphasized the critical importance of religious life within the life of the Church, and thus the importance of attracting new vocations to religious communities. He also paid tribute to the many consecrated religious who, "even during these last few years, have made the supreme act of witness through the shedding of their blood" for the faith. (According to the Fides news agency, 31 religious men and women died for the faith in the year 1999: 9 in East Timor, 15 in Africa (including 6 in Angola), 1 in India, and 6 in Latin America.) The Pope observed that the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience themselves are a witness to the world, to man's ultimate destiny, and to the Christian expectation of the Lord's return in glory.

    At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Pope delivered his personal greetings to the assembled religious, in a number of different languages, and then toured through St. Peter's Square on his popemobile, shaking hands and giving his blessing to the participants.

    The Jubilee for Consecrated Life-- a celebration for the hundreds of thousands of people who have chosen the witness of religious life-- was organized by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, under the leadership of the Congregation's prefect, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somano. The celebration had begun with a Vespers service on January 30, and continued on January 31 with a penance service. About 10,000 religious men and women participated in the latter event. During the same day, the participants also heard a series of testimonies on the joys and challenges of religious life, as a series of speakers took the microphone in the Paul VI auditorium to deliver their own personal testimonies.

    In addition to the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul, the final day of the celebration was devoted to Eucharistic adoration, as groups of religious-- arranged by their orders-- filed into the basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the high altar there.


February 3, 2000
volume 11, no. 24

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