The Vatican's plans for the observance, unveiled in Rome today, include broadcast on the Italian television network Mediaset, and worldwide distribution through Telepace. That broadcast will also give a report on several projects founded by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate: in India, Italy, Palestine, Albania. and the United States.
The 200 Missionaries of Charity now working in Rome will attend the Vatican ceremonies on Saturday. The order founded by Mother Teresa now includes 5,000 members around the world.
Cardinal Laghi, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education- - who calls himself "an adopted spiritual son" of Mother Teresa-- headed the organization of the Vatican event. He told reporters that he hoped the ceremonies would call greater attention to the work of the Missionaries of Charity, thereby promoting their efforts to build a hospital in Tirana, Albania-- a project that was one of Mother Teresa's great ambitions.
Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, the secretary of the preparatory committee for the Jubilee, said that the Albanian-born nun had a pivotal role to play in preparations for the Year 2000. "The Jubilee is one of the great events of our times, and Mother Teresa is one of the great figures of our time-- a spiritual witness for our age," he said. He called Mother Teresa "the godmother of the Jubilee."
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, commented that Mother Teresa "is very popular, but not very well known." The program is intended to provide a deeper understanding of her charitable work and spiritual depth. Television producer Cristina Parodi added that the program would show, "Despite her wrinkled ace, she radiated the beauty that is born of love."
The Pope remarked that the Jewish group offered a reminder of "the lines of spiritual paternity through which Christians take part in the great religious tradition of Judaism" stretching back to Moses and Abraham. He also expressed the hope that today's meeting would help build understanding between Catholics and Jews.
The need for peace in the world is not only a "political necessity," the Holy Father said, but-- more important-- a "commandment of God." Christians and Jews should be of one accord, he said, in following a common moral tradition, and in "obedience to the ethics proclaimed by the prophets."
That ethical system, he continued, emphasizes the importance of "adoration of God" and service to humanity. "In every human being we see an absolute and inalienable dignity, because we are created in the image and likeness of God himself," he said.
That recognition of innate human dignity should spur all believers to defend human life in all its forms, the Pope said. He concluded with a prayer that Christians and Jews might work together to form a society marked by "true respect for life and the dignity of every human being, without any form of discrimination."
"Every day an average of 700 people reach Wau exhausted, reduced to skin and bones having lived for days on end only off leaves and grass. They are in a desperate condition, with very little clothing and at the end of their tether," said Salesian Father Vincenzo Donati. "This has been the situation for the last three months and the Islamic government has obstinately refused to let in food supplies, clearly with the intention of genocide."
The Wau region civil authorities are in charge of distributing the food supplies, but Fides' sources said the authorities go out by night and take back what they have distributed. Catholic missionaries also reported that hundreds of bodies are taken away every day with most receiving no burial. They also report that thousands of orphaned children are being herded by the Muslim authorities into the so called peace-camps where they are "Islamised."
The Salesian missionaries have decided to call in another priest and four of their Sudanese aspirants in an attempt to provide assistance for these children left without a family. Besides the diocesan bishop and a few local priests, there are three Salesian missionaries who run a parish and a school, and two Comboni missionaries, one of whom is a doctor.
The cardinal said in an open letter to his countrymen, "We must not allow ourselves to be dominated by feelings of hatred and revenge towards people of Rwanda and Uganda, particularly those Rwandans and Ugandans who have lived in our country for years. Christ urges us to love our enemies." Fighting between rebels, supported by Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers, and Congolese military and civilians loyal to President Laurent Kabila's government continued throughout the country on Thursday.
"Love one another as I have loved you," Cardinal Etsou said quoting the Gospel of John. He encouraged people to have respect for human life. "I wish to draw your attention to the great commandment of love and to respect human life which is sacred and which no one has the right to take," he said. The cardinal also condemned, "certain persons, some of whom pose as 'prophets' or God's envoys, who incite the people to hatred, triggering a 'man-hunt' against Rwandans, Ugandans, and others from non-African countries."
Meanwhile, Fides news agency sources described the atrocities inflicted by Kabila's forces on retreating rebels: "No time is wasted with captured rebels: they are either hanged, shot, or burned alive with a burning car-tire hung around their necks." Two Catholic parishes on the fringes of Kinshasa have also been attacked, and the condition of the missionaries is unknown.