October 9, 2000
volume 11, no. 195

Entrustment of the world to Mary for the Millennium on Sunday, October 8, 2000
Ceremony Before the Statue of the Virgin of Fatima

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2000 (

    In a moving ceremony, and with 1,500 bishops on hand, John Paul II entrusted humanity and the third millennium to the protection of the Virgin Mary.

    The Pope pronounced the solemn words before the original image of the Virgin of Fatima, which was brought to St. Peter's Square for the occasion. In the statue's crown was the bullet that almost ended the Pope's life on May 13, 1981.

    St. Peter's Square was a sea of people. The statue of Fatima was received with enthusiastic applause, brought in procession and followed by John Paul II. The Holy Father was visibly moved by the event.

    During the homily at the concelebrated Mass, John Paul II described the scene of faith and prayer unfolding before him as a "great cenacle." He first addressed the bishops who were celebrating their special Jubilee.

    "Given the relativism and subjectivism that contaminate a large part of contemporary culture, bishops are called to defend and promote the doctrinal unity of their faithful," the Holy Father said.

    "Attentive to every situation where the faith is lost or ignored," he added, "bishops work with all their strength in favor of evangelization, preparing priests, religious and laity with this objective in mind."

    The most awaited moment came at the end, which Vatican Radio described as the "zenith" of the Holy Year. At noon, the pontiff pronounced the act of entrustment of all humanity to the Virgin Mary at the dawn of the third millennium.

    The Pope spoke on behalf of all the world's pastors when he asked Mary for her maternal protection, confidently imploring her intercession given the challenges the future holds.

    "Today we wish to entrust to you the future that awaits us, and we ask you to be with us on our way," he said. "We are the men and women of an extraordinary time, exhilarating yet full of contradictions.

    "Humanity now has instruments of unprecedented power: We can turn this world into a garden, or reduce it to a pile of rubble. We have devised the astounding capacity to intervene in the very wellsprings of life: Man can use this power for good, within the bounds of the moral law, or he can succumb to the shortsighted pride of a science that accepts no limits, but tramples on the respect due to every human being.

    "Today, as never before in the past, humanity stands at a crossroads. And, once again, O Virgin Most Holy, salvation lies fully and uniquely in Jesus, your Son."

    The Holy Father entrusted all humanity to the Mother of God, beginning with the weakest: "the babies yet unborn, and those born into poverty and suffering, the young in search of meaning, the unemployed, and those suffering hunger and disease. We entrust to you all troubled families, the elderly with no one to help them, and all who are alone and without hope."

    "O Mother," he said, "you know the sufferings and hopes of the Church and the world: Come to the aid of your children in the daily trials that life brings to each one, and grant that, thanks to the efforts of all, the darkness will not prevail over the light."

    At the end, when the Virgin of Fatima was taken to St. Peter's Basilica, John Paul II greeted the thousands of waving pilgrims from his "popemobile." However, the great majority did not leave the square.

    Thousands waited as long as was necessary, in some cases for hours, to be able to see the statue of Our Lady of Fatima before it returns to Portugal on Monday. ZE00100808

John Paul II Reminds Shepherds Christ is With His Church

    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2000 ( More than 1,500 Catholic bishops -- a third of the world's total -- gathered at the Vatican with John Paul II to celebrate the first Jubilee of Bishops in history.

    No meeting like this had taken place since the Second Vatican Council, 35 years ago.

    The Pontiff himself referred to the days of that ecumenical council in which, as Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, he played an active role.

    "Our meeting today," he told bishops gathered Saturday morning in the general-audience auditorium, "takes me back in thought to those years of grace, in which the stirring presence of the Spirit of God was forcefully experienced> as a new Pentecost."

    Attendance at this Jubilee event surpassed all expectations. Organizers had estimated a maximum of 1,200 participants.

    The new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re, told ZENIT that the meeting was a call for the interior conversion of bishops, who suffer frailties like all other human beings (see "Pilgrim Bishops Come to Rome as Sign of Conversion," Oct. 6, in the ZENIT archives at

    John Paul II took advantage of his meeting with the bishops to outline their ministry at present.

    "Dear brothers in the episcopate," he said, "as persons sacramentally configured to Christ, pastor and spouse of the Church, we are called to live again in our thoughts, feelings and decisions the love and total self-giving of Jesus Christ for His Church."

    Emphasizing that every pastoral activity of the bishop has as its ultimate objective the sanctification of the faithful, John Paul II said that it is necessary to rediscover what Vatican II teaches specifically on the universal vocation to sanctity.

    "It was not accidental that, above all, the council addressed the bishops, reminding them that they must fulfill their own ministry with sanctity and energy, humility and fortitude, because if they live it this way, they will also be an excellent means of sanctification," the Holy Father insisted.

    However, to be a bishop today is not easy, John Paul acknowledged. At times, he noted, it seems as if Christ is asleep, and leaves His ministers at the mercy of angry waves, as in the Gospel passage of the calming of the tempest.

    "However," the Pope assured, "we know that He is always ready to intervene with His omnipotent and saving love. He continues to say to us: 'Have confidence; I have overcome the world.'"

    On Saturday afternoon, the 1,500 bishops met again with the Pope to pray the World Rosary before the statue of the Virgin of Fatima, which was brought to Rome for the occasion.

    The last mystery of the Rosary was prayed by Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three visionaries of Mary's apparitions in Portugal in 1917.

    On Sunday morning, by way of conclusion to their Jubilee, the bishops joined the Pope in dedicating the third millennium to the Mother of God. ZE00100802

Pope Leads Prayer in St. Peter's Square

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2000 (

    In the presence of the statue of the Virgin of Fatima, representatives from 150 countries, along with 1,500 bishops, joined the Pope in a special World Rosary in St. Peter's Square.

    Representatives from the five continents took turns leading the five Glorious Mysteries on Saturday.

    Representing Europe was Sister Lucia dos Santos, 93, the last survivor the three young shepherds who saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1917. Sister Lucia prayed from her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, via satellite transmission.

    In his brief address at the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father said of the Blessed Virgin: "There has been no century or people to whom she has not made her presence known, bringing light, hope and consolation to the faithful, especially to little ones and the poorest."

    The World Rosary began in Mexico in 1996, when a group of lay people called for the world recitation of the rosary as a gift to the Pope on the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

    This World Rosary coincided with the first Jubilee of Bishops in history. This past weekend, 1,500 bishops and cardinals were in Rome to meet with the Holy Father.

    John Paul II said that the praying of the rosary is in response to the "message of Fatima," in which the Virgin revealed secrets to three little Portuguese shepherds, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, whose contents "helps to reflect on the history of the 20th century."

    According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the message is an exhortation to prayer as a means for the conversion of souls and a call to penance and conversion.

    The Fatima message is divided into three parts; it was revealed by the Virgin to the children in apparitions on June 13, July 13, and Oct. 13 of 1917.

    The "third secret of Fatima" was revealed this year by the Vatican. It refers to the attempt on John Paul II's life on May 13, 1981, to the struggle of atheistic communism against the Church and Christians, and to the great suffering of 20th-century victims of the faith. ZE00100810

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