The Holy See - Vatican web site
Jubilee 2000 Search


Interview with the Secretary General, Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe


Your Excellency, two years on from the last encounter, the representatives from the local Churches are here in the Vatican, for a general meeting with the Central Committee in light of the Great Jubilee for the Year 2,000. What is the meaning behind this encounter?
It will be an encounter of great importance and, above all of great value. First of all, it will be the last common appointment before the final celebration of the Holy Year. Only this fact is necessary to indicate the extraordinary importance of this commitment, which represents a key moment along the entire path of preparation. A step, which among other things, continues to quickly shorten the distances on the horizon towards the Holy Year.

At a universal level, will there be a general look at where you are now in the preparatory phase underway?
Certainly. It is the most significant event of the assembly in February. The more than 115 National Committees everywhere in the world will have the occasion of putting together and facing not only the Central Committee, but also themselves, the pastoral plans, the programs, the initiatives which deal not only with the year in progress, but also 1999, that is the last year before the celebration of the Holy Year. Therefore, it deals with an encounter of great depths, which will furnish a richness that the Great Jubilee has sown in terms of faith and hope in the four corners of the earth since the announcement of the Holy Father with Tertio Millennio Adveniente, in 1994.

Up to now, what are the most evident signs of preparation for the Great Jubilee throughout the world?
There really are many and they are very encouraging, beginning with the extraordinary popularity of Tertio Millennio Adveniente which is considered as the great "spiritual guide" as well as the main focus of orientation - under every profile, from the theological to the in practice aspects - of the entire Jubilee of the millennium. The commitment is that of putting into practice to reaffirm, and to follow page after page, this great guide-book offered to all of us by the Holy Father, and it mustn't be just for those who work in Rome, but for all those in every nation who are in charge of making the event, of two thousand years of Christ made man, come alive.

Is it possible to trace, even just briefly, the frame of preparations currently underway on the continents?
To begin with, a common fact exists. It is one on which I would like to draw attention. The preparation of the Great Jubilee is resuscitation new energies and new pastoral vitality in many local Churches. The two thousand years of the coming of Christ, the centrality of the mystery of the incarnation in the history of salvation, cannot but push all of the ecclesial community to receive the way towards a new evangelization. This is the great and true objective indicated by the Pope for the Jubilee 2,000: "to consign" humanity and the world in the hands of its creator, just like a renewed Baptism of faith. A rebirth, therefore, a new life. And it is precisely this, in reality, the condition which up to now the Churches of Central and Eastern Europe are now living, coming out of what we can define the catacombs of the twentieth century built by regimes, which after a while, had oppressed the dignity of man and with that, the natural and unsurpassable right to manifest one's own faith.
The hope which we see being born in these populations takes on the concrete figure of the Church, which have become living communities, vital centers of spirituality of the people. The signs of hope are multiple. But the most important is certainly given the fact that there is a flourishing of vocations, from priests of the third millennium, who, in these difficult years, have returned to fill the seminaries. Away from Europe, the preparation towards the Jubilee is clearly seen in the characters of the Continent of hope, Latin America, which has just celebrated its continental Synod along with the other Churches of the new world, in solidarity and a fraternal sharing of objectives and of horizons, putting man at the center of it all.
Africa is confirming itself as the continent of the future for its vitality of faith and freshness, even while facing grave situations of injustice and imbalance which force the call for solidarity and a more equal distribution of the resources on the part of the human family. In this brief tour of the horizons it is not possible to not think of Asia, where the majority of the world's population lives, and it is also the continent with the least number of Catholics. Precisely for this reason the signs of vitality of the "rooted" Church - as an example, that of the Philippines - should be considered as multipliers of hope and missionary stations within the entire territory. There are also important signs of vitality in the Churches of Oceania.

In this summit of vast horizons, can you indicate what the central themes will be?
Instead of themes, I would say -in the first place- of central common objectives. The first, obviously, is that of living the Jubilee in every part of the world, in its truest and most authentic sense. It deals with a common commitment, since the Jubilee can foresee many different aspects, but everywhere it will have the same character, that is that of a spiritual event, of a live and renewed memory of the coming of Christ on earth. On the other hand, one of the latest novelties indicated by the Holy Father for the Jubilee of the millennium deals with the three poles of celebration: Rome, The Holy Land and the Dioceses of the world.
In substance, the Jubilee must be prepared, celebrated and lived in every part of the earth. It must be a total event, a coral and full of grace when all of humanity is called to turn to the Creator. In this sense, putting the common experience of the different phases, coordinating the plan of action, up to taking into consideration every aspect of this great mobilization of men and of consciences represents a necessary step for the harmonious common walk along that path.

In this sense, can you highlight one of the major themes?
Without doubt, the first theme that comes to mind, under this aspect, is the welcome, that is the necessity of being capable of an invitation that is so prestigious and unique in its premise. We must know how to welcome the pilgrims and people who will come in the name of a celebration which is the Everything and to which Everything is due. The welcome, therefore becomes in itself an element of spirituality of the Jubilee. Our open door in function with the Holy Door; our welcome in the sign of faith. And we must procure this welcome and turn firstly to the poor and to those who, without our concrete help, could never experience the gift of welcome.
Moving from this, in the course of the encounter we will also present plans and concrete projects, we will discuss operative strategies, comparing them with the situations which will be presented. We will continue then, to make an important step forward even on the organizational front. Another important theme, closely tied in many of its aspects to the welcome, is that of communication. We must be capable of making the pilgrims who come to Rome for the Jubilee feel at home, in every moment. Modern technology allows us to reach the people wherever they come to see us, even within the same city. Through the wire connection with all the National Committees, we will be able to prolong this encounter, day by day, which at the assembly level, we will hold here at the Vatican on February 10 through the 12.