At a Te Deum prayed at St. Ignatius church, in the center of the city, as the first ceremony connected with tomorrow's celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of God, the Holy Father pointed to the importance of the city's role in preparing for the Jubilee Year. His homily, delivered to a congregation which included many of the leading public officials of Rome, focused on that theme as well as on the Incarnation of Christ.
The Pope noted that this year, a copy of St. Mark's Gospel has been delivered to all of the households of Rome, as a first step in an ambitious evangelization effort. That mission, he continued, "invites us to look to the future, and prepare the ground for the evangelization of our city in the perspective of the third millennium."
He also recalled his own instructions, delivered to the young people of Rome: that they should be "active participants in the proclamation and the witness of Christ among other young people."
Pope John Paul also mentioned his own pastoral visits to the parishes around the city. Since ascending the throne of Peter, he has made 265 such visits, and he mentioned that he looked upon these parishes as "a resource of inestimable value" in the city's mission. In Rome, he said, the Church contributes an enormous amount to the life of the society through "the education of adolescents and young people as well as the moral force of families, the aid to those who live on the margins of society, and to people who live alone and those who suffer." The Pope also gave thanks for the ordination of 30 new priests for the Rome diocese.