VATICAN, Jan. 8, 01 (CWNews.com) --
On Sunday, January 7, Pope
John Paul II offered his thanks and praise to the 70,000 volunteers
who helped greet pilgrims in Rome during the Jubilee year.
During the Angelus audience, the Pope proclaimed 2001 as "the
international year of volunteerism." He paid tribute to all people who
work as volunteers, especially those who serve the poor. He urged
them to "recognize every person as a brother to be loved and
served," and said that in this way they could be "builders of the
civilization of love."
Turning his attention to those who had already volunteered for the
Jubilee, the Pontiff echoed the sentiments of Cardinal Roger
Etchegaray, who-- during a Mass celebrated for the volunteers
earlier that day in St. Peter's Basilica-- had said they were a "living
image" of the Jubilee spirit.
About 8,000 Jubilee volunteers were in St. Peter's Square for the
papal audience, clad in their distinctive bright blue vests. Jubilee
organizers reported that a grand total of 69,272 had served as
volunteers during some part of the year. Those volunteers included
people of all ages and states of life.
Despite the extraordinary
expenses incurred during the Jubilee year, the Vatican has reported
a positive economic balance for the celebration. The surplus funds
will be used to build a new facility at the Vatican to accommodate
As he presented an accounting for the Jubilee expenses at a press
conference in Rome on Monday, Bishop Crescenzio Sepe told
reporters that "not one lire" of the income from the celebration will
remain in the Vatican coffers. The secretary of the committee that
coordinated Jubilee planning pointed out that Pope John Paul II had
directed the use of surplus funds for a "concrete sign" of charity. The
Pope issued that order in his apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte,
ending the Jubilee year.
In another charitable gesture for the Jubilee year, the four major
basilicas of Rome provided hot meals daily for 500 needy people. The
sponsor of that program has now ended his support, Bishop Sepe
reported. Nevertheless two of the basilicas plan to continue the
program, dipping into their regular operating budgets.
Bishop Sepe reported that the final tabulation of revenues and
expenses was not yet complete. But preliminary indications made it
clear that the final balance would be positive, he said.
The plans for the new center for handicapped pilgrims are now
under discussion, Bishop Sepe said.