DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     November 30, 1999     vol. 10, no. 227

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Statements by Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls

        VATICAN CITY, NOV 28 (ZENIT).- Undoubtedly, John Paul II regards the year 2000 as ideal for pilgrimages. During the Jubilee Year, the Holy Father will not undertake the normal international pastoral trips that have characterized his pontificate. Instead, next year, his trips outside of Italy will be limited to places of biblical revelation but, as a surprise announced today, also to Fatima, where Our Lady appeared to three young shepherds in 1917.

        The papal visit to the Portuguese shrine will take place on the occasion of the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died at 9 and 11 years of age respectively. The third visionary, Lucia, is a Carmelite nun in her 90s who lives in Portugal. The date chosen for the beatification, of course, is May 13, 2000, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and the anniversary of the 1981 attempt against the Pope's life in St. Peter's Square by Turk Ali Agca. The Bishop of Rome has attributed his life after the attack to the intercession of Our Lady. The bullet from the attack will be encrusted in the crown of the Virgin of Fatima at the Holy Father's request.

        Although there is not much time left for the preparations necessary for the trip to Fatima, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, spokesman for the Vatican, said the Virgin has achieved far more difficult miracles in the past. The trip is yet to be confirmed officially, however.

        Navarro-Valls highlighted the extraordinary tie that unites John Paul II to the Virgin of Fatima. On October 8, 2000 her statue will be taken to Rome. On the occasion of the Bishops' Jubilee, the Pope and his brother bishops will solemnly consecrate the Church and the world to Our Lady.

        Fatima will be the exception in the Pope's travels next year. He is scheduled for four "biblical" pilgrimages outside of Rome: Iraq, where he will visit Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's birthplace; Egypt, to go to Sinai, scene of the dialogue between God and Moses -- a trip that should take place before April, to avoid the excessive heat of this peninsula in summer; the Holy Land -- including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, at the end of March, as already confirmed officially; and Syria, to visit Damascus and follow in St. Paul's footsteps. These plans will be announced officially about one or two months before each takes place, Navarro-Valls said. ZE99112807

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November 30, 1999       volume 10, no. 227


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