House for Handicapped Pilgrims Planned in Rome

Fruit of Jubilee and Express Wish of John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2001 ( The Vatican disclosed today the charitable work that John Paul II has decided to carry out as a fruit of the Jubilee Year 2000: the establishment of a house in Rome for handicapped pilgrims.

The announcement was made by Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary of the Jubilee Central Committee, during a press conference at the end of the Holy Year. «Not one dime from the Jubilee will remain in the Vatican coffers,» the Archbishop said.

This gesture of charity was already mentioned by John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte [At the Beginning of the New Millennium], which he signed at the end of the Holy Year, and which outlines the challenges that Christians will face in the global village.

«In order to give a sign of this commitment to charity and human promotion, rooted in the most basic demands of the Gospel, I have resolved that the Jubilee Year, in addition to the great harvest of charity that it has already yielded — here I am thinking in particular of the help given to so many of our poorer brothers and sisters to enable them to take part in the Jubilee –; should leave an endowment that would in some way be the fruit and seal of the love sparked by the Jubilee. Many pilgrims have made an offering and many leaders in the financial sector have joined in providing generous assistance that has helped to ensure a fitting celebration of the Jubilee. Once the expenses of this year have been covered, the money saved will be dedicated to charitable purposes. It is important that such a major religious event should be completely disassociated from any semblance of financial gain,» wrote the Holy Father.

This new initiative for the handicapped is no more than the latest initiative of Christian love for the poorest that emerged in the context of the Jubilee.

The most characteristic work of the Holy Year was, perhaps, the 5 dining halls for the poor, organized by the Jubilee Central Committee, each of which offered 500 hot meals daily.

In response to journalists´ questions, Archbishop Sepe said during the press conference that he foresees the possibility that two of these dining halls will be able to continue their activity after the Holy Year. He did not discard the possibility that the others would remain active as well.

The Archbishop also recalled the Pope´s appeals in favor of cancellation of the international debt, social justice, the defense of nature, and prisoners´ conditions, as part of the Jubilee endeavor for change.

«I wish to deny the idea that these topics were lacking in results. Many countries, among them Italy, Switzerland, and Norway, approved laws to reduce, or in some cases to totally cancel, the debt that more unfortunate nations have incurred with them. Altogether, there has been a favorable response also to the appeal for an act of clemency in favor of prisoners. Concrete initiatives have been taken in at least ten countries, including Spain, Nigeria, Malawi, Chile, India, and Madagascar,» Archbishop Sepe added.

Another charitable gesture was the rescue of child-soldiers in Sierra Leone. The boys and young men of Italian Catholic Action collected $700,000 this year for this purpose, which they gave the Pope on the eve of Christmas. With the charity of Jubilee pilgrims, the Church in that country not only has been able to buy the rescue of thousands of child-soldiers, but it also shelters them, gives them an education and academic and professional formation, as many are without a family or are rejected by the latter.

Carlo Balestrero, delegate of the Committee´s administration, addressed the topic of the expenses of the organization of the Jubilee during the press conference. He specified that, although there were still no exact figures for a closing balance, the management has pointed out a high degree of savings and always kept in mind that the residual funds would be used for charitable works indicated by the Holy Father.

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