Understanding the significance of the Great Jubilee - Nuccio Fava
Jubilee 2000 Search



Nuccio Fava

Coordinator of the "Jubilee Project" of RAI

It was an involuntary scoop, but it certainly remains unique that the announcement of the Vatican Council II was given to the journalists before it was given to the Cardinals. It was January 25, 1959. The Monsignor Loris Capovilla remembered the date recently in the May edition of "Tertium Millenium." The Mass at San Paolo lasted longer than expected and when - slightly after midday - John XXIII entered in the capital hall, the embargo time had passed and the great notice of the Council had already reached the newsrooms and the radio and television stations were already spreading the news throughout the world.

It is a small episode, but it encapsulated and anticipated in some way the ever-increasing role that the mass-media would assume. Today, with the extraordinary acceleration that characterizes the adventure of man in our times precisely as a result of the formidable development of all of the instruments of communication, the role, the responsibility of the mass media have dilated in measure, with respect to the past, in ways that are not even imaginable. It is natural, therefore, to ask ourselves about the function and the responsibility that the world of the media finds itself faced with in the preparation and in the carrying out of the Great Jubilee, in such a way that its significance and its fruits could renew the life of the Church and all of humanity.

Even recently, John Paul II, addressing the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, recalled, «the particle importance in making all of the Church aware of the positive role that the means of social communication can carry out in assuring a proper celebration of the Jubilee. The challenge is constituted in seeing the world properly informed about the true significance of the year 2000, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ».

The true significance of the Grand Jubilee: this is the challenge for the world of communication. Certainly the Jubilee is also a great obligation with regard to organization. Millions of pilgrims will travel from every corner of the world and Rome, like never before in the past, will become host to meetings and happenings of every sort, not just religious and spiritual. There are also cultural, touristic, economic, and political-administrative factors, as well as those of amusement and entertainment, which will enter into play. The world of information will have to deal with all of this in order to be able to tell the world correctly and critically. But certainly the principal challenge will be the capacity to not ever lose hold of the most profound and truest sense of the Jubilee event: its religious and spiritual significance, of great recapitulation of two thousand years of humanity's moving forward in the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, who started the new history of man.

If it loses hold of this focal point, the system of information - with all of its extraordinary technological power - would end up losing itself, mislaying its grand function as civilizer and humanizer in every part of the planet. This is where the challenge lies, the great opportunity for the system of the media. The world of communication can not, in fact, locally subtract itself from the critical reflection that regards the present condition of humanity.

The uncertainty, up until the confusion, about the present; the fears about the future; the difficulty for contemporary man to gather horizons of sense that would help to understand the path taken; the hurtful revisions, the re-examinations of conscience that are indispensable for looking ahead with confidence and hope, knowing how to discover also in the greatest tragedies - especially those of this current century - and in the great interrogations that are open in the life of humanity, the perennial interrogations on life and on death, on good and on bad, on freedom and on the temptations of the dominion, on the injustices and on the taking advantage of, the inequalities, the egoisms and the cupidities that conspire to make a man the enemy or also just foreign and inattentive to the next man. This is the cultural horizon that it is important to always be aware of, because the Jubilee event is inside this story of men, even with all of the conquests (and the new challenges and new risks) that science and technology have produced and of which the mass-media universe itself is an eloquent witness. There comes a strong cry for responsibility and in-depth study, escaping from all of the banalities and superficial or commercial readings.

This involves contributing to the understanding of the human adventures of the bimillenial arc from he birth of Christ, recognizing that new streets, openings and generosity of dialogue, of solidarity, of reciprocal exchange and of sharing will be sought out and favored in every direction.

«The traditional significance of the Jubilee year carries with it a starting over in the relations between people throughout society: there is the need to make everyone understand that this stage of our history is a privileged occasion for reconciliation and it makes us turn towards a more convivial future. The common memory must be cleared and purified, which is to say that, recognizing the weaknesses and the shortages of the ones and the others with lucidity, freed from antique germs of divisions or even from rancorous, we could better respond to the challenges of our time».

The Pope reminds the French Bishops this, thanking them for their contribution to the preparation of the World Youth Day, which took place in Paris at the end of August. This invitation to "renew the relationship between people;" this calling to a profound renewal of social ties (beginning with the poorest and mot needy in every part of the planet); this need to "move towards a more cohabital future," is it not the greatest challenge that awaits the world of communication?

Here then is the Jubilee, with its fruitful outcome, and much is expected from the systems of media, all its operators many of whom can positively contribute, if they overcome their limitations, grave insufficiencies, the same prevailing logic of the mass-media universe, they may be able to embrace the great opportunity of the Jubilee, to deeply reconsider their function and their responsibility to the service of community-communion, of all men, in this demanding and extraordinary time on the throes of the third millennium.