Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. "Come, blessed of My Father, receive the inheritance of the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Because, I was hungry and you gave Me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink ..." (Matthew 25: 34-35).
This Evangelical word helps us to make our reflection on charity concrete, spurring us to be set on fire, according to indications in the "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" (Cf. n. 51) with some words of commitment that are particularly consonant with the spirit of the Great Jubilee that we are preparing to celebrate.
In this connection, it is opportune to refer to the Biblical Jubilee. Described in chapter 25 of the Book of Leviticus, in certain aspects this Jubilee reiterates and expresses more completely the function of the Sabbatical year (Cf. vv. 2-7, 188-22), which is the year in which one had to abstain from cultivating the earth. The Jubilee year occurred after a period of 49 years. It was also characterized by abstention of the cultivation of crops(Cf. vv. 8-12), but it implied two advantageous norms for the Israelites. The first concerned the recovery of both land and buildings (Cf vv. 13-17, 23-34); the second concerned the liberation of the Israelite, who had been sold as a slave to another Israelite to pay off his own debts (Cf. vv. 39-55).
2. The Christian Jubilee, which was first celebrated by Boniface VIII in 1300, has its own specific nature, but it does not lack content that recalls the Biblical Jubilee.
In so far as the possession of real estate is concerned, the normative of the Biblical Jubilee rested on the principle according to which the "earth belongs to God" and, therefore, given for the benefit of the entire community. Because of this, if an Israelite had lost his land, the Jubilee year enabled him to regain possession of it. "The lands cannot be sold forever, because the land is mine and you are to me as foreigners and tenants. Because of this, in the whole country that you possess, you will give the right to rescue the land" (Leviticus 25, 23-24).
The Christian Jubilee calls us to an ever greater awareness of the social values of the Biblical Jubilee that it hopes to interpret and re-propose in the contemporary context, reflecting on the demands of the common good and on the universal destiny of the goods of the earth. Precisely from this point of view, in the "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" I proposed that the Jubilee be lived as "an opportune time to think, among other things, of a consistent reduction, if not the outright cancellation, of the international debt, that weighs on the future of many nations" (TMA, 51).
3. In connection with this problem, typical of so many vulnerable countries, in the encyclical "Populorum Progression," Paul VI affirmed that a dialogue is necessary between those who provide the means and those who are the beneficiaries, in such a way as "to measure the contributions not only according to the generosity and disposition of some, but also in connection with the real needs and the possibility of use of others. In this way, the developing countries will no longer run the risk of seeing themselves overwhelmed by debts, the payment of which ends by absorbing the best of their earnings" (PP, 54). In the encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" I was compelled to point out that, unfortunately, the change in circumstances -- be it in indebted countries or in the international financial market -- have made of the financing itself a "counter-productive mechanism," and this "either because the debtor nations, to pay back the commitment to the debt, see themselves obliged to export capitals which are necessary for growth, or even, just to maintain their level of life, because, for the same reason, they cannot obtain indispensable new financing" (n. 19).
4. The problem is complex and has no easy solution. It must also be clear that it is not only of an economic character, but involves fundamental ethical principles and must find a place in international law, to be addressed and adequately resolved according to medium and long-term perspectives. It is necessary to apply an "ethics of survival" that regulates relations between creditors and debtors, in such a way that the debtor in difficulty is not burdened by an unbearable weight. It is a question of avoiding abusive speculation, of agreeing to solutions through which those who lend are more reassured and those who receive feel committed to effective global reforms in so far as the political, bureaucratic, financial and social aspects of their countries are concerned (Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, At the Service of the Human Community. An Ethical Appreciation of the International Debt, II).
Today, in the context of the globalized economy, the problem of international debt is increasingly thorny, but 'globalization' itself demands that one walk on the road of solidarity, if we do not want to meet with general catastrophe.
5. Precisely in the context of these considerations we make our own the virtually universal request that we have received through the recent Synods, from many Episcopal Conferences and of individual brother Bishops, as well as a large number of representations of religious, priests and laity of making a heartfelt appeal so that the debts contracted may be partially or even totally cancelled at the international level. In particular, the request for payment of exorbitant interests would necessitate taking political decisions that would leave entire populations in hunger and misery.
This perspective of solidarity, which I had the occasion to point out in "Centesimus Annus" (Cf. n. 35) has become even more urgent in the world situation of the last few years. The Jubilee can be a propitious occasion for gestures of good will: may the richer countries give signs of trust regarding the economic improvement of the poorer nations; may the market agents know that in the vertiginous process of economic globalization it is not possible to save oneself alone. May the gesture of good will to cancel the debt or at least to reduce it be the sign to the world of a new way of considering wealth in function of the common good.
He served as the Bishop of Sion from then until April 1, 1995 when he officially retired because of health. He was twice was elected President of the Episcopal Conference of Swiss Bishops and served membership in the Congregation for Catholic Education from 1978 through 1983. Finaly, at the age of 59 Pope John Paul II named him in the Consistory of June 28, 1991 when he received his red-hat and the titular church of the Protomartyrs on via Aurelia Antica. He still enjoys membership in the curial offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Today, he rests still in his home diocese of Sion at C.P. 2334 rue Mathieu-Schiner 5, CH-1950 Sion 2 in Switzerland.
Catholics should observe an attitude of understanding towards them, because the majority of those who do not belong to the True Church are in good faith.
Catholic teachings are not easy to understand at first sight; many Catholic practices require sacrifice. Towards such a religion there is bound to be prejudice. In addition, many Catholics don't even understand their Faith, especially today where the Catechism has just recently been revived and generations have been deprived of truly knowing their Faith. Thus they fall into traps when discussing their own Faith and are easy fodder for evangelicals who are ready to pounce. If one's faith is not strong and based on terra firma then doubt can easily set in and their faith in the True Faith can get washed away in the sands of confusion and doubt.
There are other hardships involved for Jesus says that the path is narrow and we must carry our cross if we want to be His disciples. To be obliged to go to Mass every Sunday under pain of mortal sin; to have to confess to a priest, who is another human being like ourselves; to condemn divorce and birth control; to observe fasts and abstinence; - these are not easy doctrines. Especially today they go against the grain of public opinion and the easy way.
No wonder in looking for relief, man often, however unconsciously, seeks motives for not accepting the Church that commands its members to obey such precepts; to accept such doctrines. When Our Lord first announced the institution of the Holy Eucharist, many of the disciples said: "This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?" (John 6:62). And they no longer went with Jesus.
Catholics should above all try to give good example; nothing is more effective in the eyes of non-Catholics than the exemplary lives led by good Catholics. "Behave yourselves honorably among the pagans; that, whereas they sander you as evildoers, they may through observing you by reason of your good works glorify God in the day of visitations" (1 Peter 2:12). While avoiding useless discussions that generally end in bitter quarrels. Catholics should try to show the beauty, the truth of the Catholic Church. That is why it is so important Catholics know their Faith, know how to express it to others. As we near the new millennium apologetics has become paramount in defending the Faith.
In our friendly discussions with non-Catholics we should not be always on the defensive, but should try to see whether they can trace the origin of the authority of their ministers to the Apostles, whether their church can be proved the True Church by the possession of the four marks. Often our non-Catholic friends criticize the Catholic Church on account of some devotional practices like holy water, candles, etc., as if such practices belonged to the essentials of faith.
Catholics should often pray for the conversion of those outside the Church, praying with the Good Shepherd for only one Fold. When discussing religion with a non-Catholic, it is most important to persuade him to pray for the grace of God. To become a member of the Church is a gratuitous gift of God: one must humbly pray for it. In any discussion with another, we should always remember Christ's words to treat our neighbor as ourselves with love toward all and malice toward none.
Death of Pope Saint Deusdedit I, 68th successor of Peter who was elected on October 10, 615. With heroic abnegation he tended lepers and the plaguestricken as a humble Supreme Pontiff. He was the first to use seals of lead for Papal Bulls and pontifical decrees. His is the oldest pontifical seal preserved in the Vatican.
Death of Blessed John Duns Scotus, Scottish Franciscan and theologian who was a professor and prolific writer. He died at Cologne. Because he adhered to the philosophies of Aristotle and Saint Augustine and not the more popular Saint Thomas Aquinas some of the Dominicans equated the word "Duns" with "dunce" which forever has meant one who is not a smart pupil. Scotus was anything but a dunce.
There have been five Ecumenical Councils held over the centuries at the Lateran Basilica and numerous diocesan synods. The Lateran Pacts signed by