It is an unprecedented event in history. On Christmas Eve, shortly after 11 p.m. Roman time, the Pontiff will inaugurate the Jubilee by opening the Vatican's Holy Door. In the afternoon of December 25, he will open the Door of St. John Lateran, the Bishop of Rome's Official See. On January 1, he will open the Holy Door of St. Mary Major. The opening of the Door of St. Paul Outside the Walls has been postponed until January 18, the beginning of the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians or The Octave of Church Unity.
In previous Holy Years, the opening of these three patriarchal basilicas was carried out by Cardinal Legates. The first Pope to introduce the ritual of the opening of the Holy Door was the Spaniard, Alexander VI, on Christmas Eve, 1499.
Another novelty of this Jubilee will be the "Te Deum" in thanksgiving for the end of the year, the century, and the millennium, in St. Peter's Basilica -- not in the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as has been done traditionally. On New Year's Eve the Pontiff will give his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
Bishop Sepe also disclosed that the date for the "mea culpa" that the Pontiff will pronounce for the historic errors of the children of the Church has also been changed. It will not be on Ash Wednesday, as originally stated, but on the first Sunday of Lent of the year 2000. ZE99092907
The bodies, however, were missing. Their condition was such, that the decision was made to bury them immediately in Los Palos, where they were killed. In at least one case, the burial is provisional; Sister Erminia Cazzaniga's family has requested her remains be returned to Italy.
All the Canossian Sisters' houses in Indonesia have wept and prayed for their martyrs in Timor. Sixty nuns attended a ceremony at the Mother House in Jakarta, which was closed to the public for security reasons. Many of the nuns are natives of Timor who fled from Suai and Dili, where the fury of the militias and the Indonesian army ended the life of four religious in early September. Today, Sister Ilva Fornaro, Mother General of the Canossian Sisters, is arriving in Jakarta, to accompany her sister religious in this time of sorrow.
Sister Erminia was remembered in her Italian home town of Lecco yesterday, by Milan's Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, during a meeting to prepare for the Great Jubilee. The Cardinal said he was very "affected and sorrowful" by what happened to the Sister, who was "very appreciated for her courage, dynamism and solid faith." Sister Erminia's witness is "an example that encourages us to pray for peace in Timor and in the world," Cardinal Martini concluded. ZE99092909
"A priest called our convent in Jakarta from Timor this morning (Monday, Sept. 27): he was calling from a reporter's telephone to give us the news of the massacre. At first I didn't believe him. I told the Nuncio that the Bishop of Baucau called (with the news). Sadly, it was true." Sister Yolanda Vezzolu wept as she spoke with the reporter sent by the Italian newspaper "Avvenire." She is the Mother Superior of the Canossian Sisters in Indonesia, and spoke of the massacre in which two nuns, two deacons, one seminarian and four lay people, who were on their way to help the refugees, lost their life at the hands of Indonesian military.
The Superior spoke of Sister Erminia, the Italian nun who was killed. "She was the Superior of our community in Baucau. She had been in Timor for almost 40 years. She was a professor. For some time now, she had been dedicated to pastoral work. Of all of us, she was the one closest to the people. She gave her life because of this."
The Superior is now anxious about the other Sisters. She has spent hours on the telephone. She trembles every time the line goes dead or a telephone rings in Timor and no one answers. "There are 31 Sisters of ours in East Timor, of which 5 are in Dili, in addition to 8 novices. We have 11 houses on the Island or, rather, we had. Many have been evacuated but four houses are still maintained by our Sisters."
"There are a total of 111 Canossian religious in the whole of Indonesia," Sister Yolanda said, "in addition to 5 young girls from Timor who are studying in Italy -- in a safe place, thank God." ZE99092830
Meanwhile John Paul II expressed his profound sorrow over the killing of several missionaries in East Timor on September 25, and asked the 16,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, to pray for the victims of this tragedy and for the Island's pacification.
"These days, tragic news continues to arrive from East Timor of massacres perpetrated against defenseless citizens, against Christians, priests, men and women religious, who have given their life in the service of all," the Holy Father said.
Specifically, the Pope said "with profound sorrow I learned that on Saturday afternoon, numerous persons were killed near Baucau, among whom were also Canossian missionaries."
The Holy Father was referring to the attack perpetrated by militiamen, who are in favor of the annexation of East Timor to Indonesia, in which two deacons native of Timor lost their life, as well as a young theology student, two Canossian Sisters -- one from Timor, Sister Celeste de Carvalho, and another Italian, Sister Erminia Cazzaniga. Two orphan girls and a reporter from Timor who worked for a Japanese newspaper, were also killed. The missionaries were in a van, taking food and medicines to refugees in the mountains who live in conditions that are nothing short of dramatic.
"I ask you to remember them in your prayers, along with all other victims of the tragedy in Timor. Let us pray for those who are suffering in body and spirit, for fugitives and refugees, as well as for all those who work for them, and for the pacification of the territory."
The Pontiff ended by asking God that "the example of charity of these witnesses, to the point of the total gift of their existence, may contribute to the birth of hope in East Timor." ZE99092903
He also gave his support to "the initiative of the radio broadcasting stations that adhere to the Conference of European Catholic Radios, which today give witness of their solidarity with the Church and the people of East Timor, by dedicating transmissions and appeals to them."
This initiative was launched by "Radio Renascença," a Portuguese Catholic broadcasting station. This afternoon, several of these European radios transmitted a program on the drama of Timor, as the result of a commitment they made in Vienna during the recent 5th Colloquium of the Conference of European Catholic Radios, and as a gesture of solidarity with the martyred people of the former Portuguese colony. ZE99092913
Edward Joannes Maria Poppe (1890-1924) was a Belgian priest who was involved in the religious instruction of young people in Flanders. He had a profound effect on a generation of Belgian priests because of his service as spiritual director to seminarians.
Ferdinando Maria Baccilieri (1821-1893) spent his entire life in the parish of St. Maria de Galeazza, in Bologna. He dedicated his life to preaching, missions, teaching, and spiritual direction. A priest with a deep affection for the poor, and a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary, he was sometimes compared with the Cure of Ars. He founded a women's religious order, the Servants of Mary, which now has members in Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Korean, and the Czech Republic.
Arcangelo Tadini (1846- 1912), another Italian priest, did his pastoral work in Brescia, in northern Italy. He took a special interest in helping lay people to cope with the social and economic problems of the era, founding organizations devoted to mutual aid and promoting the sanctification of daily work.
Mariano da Roccacasale (1778- 1866), the son of a farming family in Abruzzi, in central Italy, entered the Franciscan order when he was 24. After two years-- during which he gained a reputation for his exemplary conduct-- he moved to a more austere monastery outside Rome, and worked there among the poor and pilgrims, again gaining renown for his deep piety and acts of charity.
Diego Oddi (1839 – 1919) met Mariano da Roccacasale while making a pilgrimage to Rome, and was inspired by his example to enter the Franciscan order himself. He lived out his days in the same monastery, in simple service, and was renowned for his sunny temperament as well as his deep faith.
Nicola da Gesturi (1882-1958) was a Capuchin monk who lived in Sardinia and devoted much of his time to raising funds for the Church. As he performed that work, he also became a spiritual adviser to people from all walks of life, who saw in him a man of profound religious faith and wisdom. His remarkable popularity was manifest when 60,000 people came to his funeral.
The beatification ceremony will be the 119th during the pontificate of John Paul II; during that time the Holy Father has beatified 938 people, including 712 martyrs.
"Today I am directing my administration to make it possible to forgive 100 percent of the debt these countries owe to the United States, when, and this is quite important, when needed to help them finance basic human needs and when the money will be used to do so," Clinton told a joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The US had previously committed to forgive 90 percent of debt at the Group of Seven (G7) major powers summit in June.
The debt forgiveness was expected to cover only $1 billion of debt, and would cost US taxpayers "hundreds of millions of dollars," according to US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers who said the debt is carried on the books at less than face value.
While many countries were expected to benefit from the relief, the proposal would not cover billions of dollars of private loans guaranteed by the US government that many developing nations will still owe.
Clinton said he was motivated by requests from Pope John Paul II and the star-studded Jubilee 2000 debt relief coalition to make global debt relief "a gift to the new millennium."